Our History

In 1982, Republican House Majority Leader Burton Barr addressed the Arizona House Committee on Natural Resources and Energy, using powerful and direct language to discuss the matter at hand: the Environmental Quality Act. “In the history of state legislation,” Barr intoned, “this bill will be regarded as a landmark.”

And so it was. ADEQ was thus established as a separate, cabinet-level agency in 1987 with the purpose of administering all of the state’s environmental protection programs. The same legislation also established a comprehensive groundwater protection program and the state’s Water Quality Assurance Revolving Fund (WQARF), which cleans up contaminated sites that have the potential to harm human health.

Before ADEQ was formed, the state’s environmental programs were managed by a number of offices within the Arizona Department of Health Services. During the last 25 years, ADEQ has grown in size from around 135 employees to an agency of more than 400 people who support a wide range of environmental programs that protect the quality of our air, water and land in Arizona.

The agency has created rules and regulations necessary to administer state environmental protection laws and a number of programs delegated by the federal government such as the Clean Air Act, Safe Water Drinking Act, National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System program, and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act program.