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Legacy Mines | Surface Water Quality

Arizona has a rich history of metal mining and smelting. Starting in the mid-1800s, eager prospectors and frontier explorers mined for copper, gold, silver, molybdenum and lead throughout Arizona. The establishment of these mines predate modern mining practices and environmental regulations protective of public health and the environment. No longer in operation, these old mines, known as legacy mines, blanket the state. Their historic mine workings can be harmful to the environment by leaching metals into nearby streams and rivers, impacting public health and the environment. These waterways are classified as ‘impaired’ when standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the State are exceeded. The impairments can also negatively affect groundwater supplies, drinking water sources, recreation sites and local wildlife. 

Through collaborative partnerships,ADEQ is currently working on remediation of eight legacy mine sites to protect over 120 stream miles. These are: 

Mine sites are shown as purple squares on the map and show additional information when clicked | View Map >

Current or potential landowners in areas where mining historically occurred can obtain information on prior land use and property owners by contacting the local county recorder’s office and/or the Arizona Secretary of State | View Website >

If you are a private landowner with a legacy mine site or historic mine workings on your property, consider contacting:

  • ADEQ, if you believe a site is contributing to surface water quality impairments by submitting your concerns online | Submit >
  • Arizona State Mine Inspector, which conducts inspections of legacy mines, implements safety measures, and provides resources through its Abandoned Mines Education Program | Learn More > 
  • Arizona Department of Health Services, which offers guidance for conducting private domestic drinking water well sampling. Private property owners are responsible for conducting their own wells sampling | Learn More >