PRESS RELEASE | ADEQ Initiates Proactive $3 Million Public Water System Sampling Plan to Protect Arizona’s Drinking Water from Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) Contamination

PHOENIX (Dec. 16, 2022) — The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) today initiated its proactive statewide public water system sampling effort to protect Arizona’s drinking water from per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) contamination. ADEQ will sample public water systems for PFAS in every county in Arizona through September 2023.

“ADEQ’s statewide sampling of public water systems in Arizona is critical to understanding where PFAS is so that steps can be taken to reduce people’s exposure to PFAS in drinking water and to connect affected public water systems to funding sources to achieve solutions,” said ADEQ Water Quality Division Director Trevor Baggiore. “In Arizona, small water systems serving less than 3,300 people account for 90 percent or about 1,200 of the approximate 1,500 public water systems, and ADEQ is committed to ensuring these systems, which serve nearly half a million people, are tested for PFAS.”

ADEQ’s proactive sampling plan goes above and beyond the PFAS sampling the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will require for Arizona public water systems as part of its fifth Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule (UCMR5) that begins in January 2023. EPA’s UCMR5 only will require public water systems that serve more than 3,300 customers to test for PFAS.

ADEQ’s statewide PFAS sampling plan will include all Arizona public water systems that have not yet been tested by ADEQ, the public water system or under EPA’s UCMR:

  • Beginning today through September 2023, ADEQ will conduct PFAS sampling for about 1,200 public water systems. If a public water system already is sampling for PFAS, ADEQ will request their data.
  • ADEQ’s sampling activities will be conducted under an EPA-approved PFAS Quality Assurance Program Plan and similar to EPA’s UCMR5, the samples will be analyzed using EPA Methods 533 and 537.1.
  • As ADEQ PFAS sample results become available, ADEQ will share validated data with the public water system owners and operators.
  • All data collected by ADEQ will be validated, verified and also made available to the public through an interactive map on ADEQ’s website.

When ADEQ’s sampling results show a public water system has a PFAS detection higher than an EPA health advisory level, ADEQ will contact the public water system to discuss EPA’s recommendations that they:

  • Take steps to inform customers,
  • Examine steps to limit exposure, and
  • Undertake additional sampling to assess the level, scope, and source of contamination.

To assist public water systems with potential PFAS challenges, ADEQ compiled an Arizona Public Water System PFAS Toolkit with information regarding funding, sampling, customer communication, and potential PFAS treatment options.

PFAS resolution options must be carefully determined and consider the number of people served, system design and the level of PFAS reduction needed. These options generally include installing a PFAS treatment unit, turning off an impacted well (if other wells are in production), installing in-home point-of-use water treatment systems and others.

“Arizona’s proactive PFAS sampling has well-positioned Arizona to continue our work with public water systems to identify and address PFAS drinking water challenges early and head on,” Baggiore added. “While EPA’s PFAS health advisories are non-regulatory and non-enforceable today, we expect EPA to set federal PFAS drinking water standards that public water systems must meet as early as the end of next year.”

BACKGROUND

  • PFAS are a group of man-made chemicals with fire-retardant properties that have been used commercially in the United States to make products like stain and water resistant carpet and textiles, food packaging, firefighting foam, as well as in other industrial processes. Some PFAS can accumulate in people, animals, and the environment over time. While consumer products and food are the largest source of exposure to these chemicals for most people, drinking water can be an additional source of exposure in communities where these chemicals are in water supplies. A lifetime of exposure to certain PFAS levels in drinking water is associated with negative health effects.
  • ADEQ conducted targeted PFAS screening in 2018 and in 2021-2022 of drinking water systems that were located near potential sources of PFAS to groundwater. In response to receipt of those data, many drinking water systems have proactively chosen to take voluntary mitigation measures such as discontinuation of well use, implementation of blending plans and or treatment.
  • On June 15, 2022, EPA issued new drinking water health advisories for PFAS. EPA’s lifetime health advisories levels are conservative, designed to protect sensitive populations, and therefore all people, during all life stages from adverse health effects resulting from exposure to these PFAS in drinking water. These advisories also take into account other potential sources of exposure to PFAS beyond drinking water (for example, food, air, consumer products, etc.), which provides an additional layer of conservatism. Non-enforceable and non-regulatory, EPA’s PFAS health advisories are meant to help inform the public, while EPA continues its work to set a national drinking water standard for these chemicals. EPA is expected to propose national drinking water standards for PFAS this fall, which could be finalized in late 2023.
  • June 15, 2022, PRESS RELEASE | ADEQ is Committed to Protecting Arizonans and Assisting Public Water Systems in Addressing PFAS
  • September 2, 2022, PRESS RELEASE | ADEQ Announces Proactive $3 Million Public Water System Sampling Plan to Protect Arizona’s Drinking Water from Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) Contamination

RESOURCES

Contact

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