PRESS RELEASE | 2021 Year in Review | ADEQ works to protect the environment, public health of all Arizonans

PHOENIX (Dec. 31, 2021) — This year, the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) took key actions to protect the environment and health of all Arizonans.

“This year, the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality has continued to meet unprecedented challenges and we are protecting public health and Arizona’s valuable and unique natural resources better than ever before,” said ADEQ Director Misael Cabrera, P.E. “Our culture of continuous improvement fosters innovation and has helped us achieve positive mission outcomes and record results for Arizonans and our environment.”

Taking Actions and Responding During an Ongoing Pandemic

  • In 2021, ADEQ completed the transition of 80 percent of staff to remote work. The 2021 office consolidation in combination with its 2015 pre-pandemic office consolidation is saving the State of Arizona $1.5 million in annual rent expenses every year and has reduced the agency’s footprint by 90,000 square feet.
  • ADEQ’s hybrid workforce has demonstrated its ability to continue efficient and effective regulatory oversight and inspections of permitted facilities. In 2021, ADEQ completed the highest number of facility inspections in the history of the agency. As of December 28, 2021, ADEQ had conducted 4,478 inspections.
  • In 2021, ADEQ compliance officers and inspectors responded to more than 900 environmental complaints – an 18 percent increase over 2020.

Protecting Arizonans and Our Environment — Key Accomplishments

  • Air Quality Forecasting — Expanded hourly air quality forecasts for communities in Douglas, Flagstaff, Hayden, Miami, Prescott and Rillito. Today, all areas with air quality concerns receive daily and hourly forecasts so that the people of Arizona can make wise decisions about their health.
  • Issued 52 Wildfire Smoke Forecasts for communities in the areas of the Tussock and Tiger Wildfires near Crown King, the Mescal and Telegraph Wildfires near Miami/Globe, the Backbone Wildfire near Pine/Strawberry, and the Rafael Wildfire southeast of Williams.
  • Voluntary Vehicle Repair Program (VVRP) — Changes to the VVRP expanded the number of vehicles eligible for the program and now record numbers of motorists are taking advantage of the program for cleaner air.
  • Brownfields — Awarded $528,000 to 12 communities to perform 16 projects to revitalize and transform blighted properties into vibrant usable space while reducing environmental hazards and returned over 80 acres to productive use.
  • Recycling — Continued building and supporting partnerships with Arizona counties, cities, environmental groups, private companies, nonprofits and other interested individuals to address recycling challenges and expanded educational outreach through the The Biggest Reducer video series.
  • The Water Quality Assurance Revolving Fund (WQARF) program treated 11.6 billion gallons of groundwater and removed 12,254 pounds of volatile organic compounds and about 640 tons of metals and hazardous wastes and for the first time in WQARF history, ADEQ advanced all listed sites through the Remedial Investigation phase to the Feasibility Study phase of the process.
  • Implemented the Arizona Surface Water Protection Program and its Protected Surface Waters List that specify all waters protected by the Clean Water Act and the new State Surface Water Protection Program — 883 rivers, streams and lakes critical for drinking, recreation and fish consumption. Signed by Governor Ducey on May 5, 2021, House Bill 2691 is the first Arizona-specific water quality protection legislation enacted since the Aquifer Protection Program in 1991.
  • More than $928,000 from the Small Water Systems Fund was awarded to eight small public water systems by the Water Infrastructure Finance Authority on ADEQ’s recommendation. These systems, which serve nearly 2,000 people in rural Arizona, used the funding to address public health issues.
  • Activated the Arizona Water Emergency Team to address 26 water emergencies and facilitate immediate relief to water providers and their customers in cases to address imminent threats to public health and safety.

Customer Service & Experience — Continued Expansion of Online Services

ADEQ’s award-winning myDEQ permitting and reporting portal has reduced permitting timeframes by over 95 percent and helped facilities return to compliance more than 50 percent faster, with an estimated annual economic benefit of more than $190 million every year. ADEQ now offers 50 percent of eligible services online with myDEQ. Key services launched in 2021 include the open burn permitting and Underground Storage Tank online customer portals.

Addressing Forever Chemicals

ADEQ made significant strides on addressing the threat of emerging per- and polyfluorinated alkyl substances (PFAS) contaminants in groundwater, preventing PFAS contamination and keeping the public and stakeholders informed.

  • Conducted an accelerated investigation, designed and constructed a pilot demonstration remedy to stop a PFAS plume from reaching the City of Tucson’s central wellfield (see CTPP). Construction was completed in December 2021 and the system is operating.
  • Continued screening high-risk public drinking water systems statewide and advising relevant industries about adverse impacts to public health and the environment.
  • Worked with the Governor’s office to grant $2 million to Tucson Water so they could re-start the Tucson Area Remediation Project treatment plant.
  • Struck an Environmental Services Agreement with the Air Force Civil Engineer Center for an initial $1.7 million in U.S. Air Force funding for the CTPP.

2021 National Awards

For more information about ADEQ’s performance metrics and results, visit:

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Contact

ADEQ Public Information Officer
602-540-8072 | Email >