PRESS RELEASE | ADEQ Strikes Environmental Services Agreement with Air Force Civil Engineer Center for an Initial $1.7 Million in U.S. Air Force Funding for the Central Tucson PFAS Project

PHOENIX (Oct. 21, 2021) – Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) officials announced today an Environmental Services Agreement (ESA) with the Air Force Civil Engineer Center of $1.7 million in U.S. Air Force funding for the Central Tucson PFAS Project (CTPP). The CTPP is a demonstration remedy to remove Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) from groundwater and protect Tucson’s central wellfield, an important part of the area’s long-term drinking water supply by containing the PFAS plume in the area north of the Davis-Monthan Air Force Base (DMAFB). ADEQ continues to lead the CTPP demonstration remedy construction and startup and will seek reimbursement for future state costs under the terms of the ESA, which was executed on September 1, 2021.

“We appreciate the Air Force Civil Engineer Center stepping up and committing U.S. Air Force funding for this important work to prevent additional PFAS impacts to Tucson’s backup drinking water supply in the area north of Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, concurrent with their base remedial investigation,” said ADEQ Waste Programs Division Director Laura Malone.

In April 2021, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey called on the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) Secretary Lloyd Austin to promptly act to address known PFAS groundwater contamination near Arizona’s four military installations. This ESA provides ADEQ with a funding mechanism for reimbursement of future state expenditures for the CTPP. This ESA and its initial funding are in addition to the more than $2.3 million ADEQ has spent for the CTPP using limited state Water Quality Assurance Revolving Fund monies that allowed ADEQ to take swift action and immediately provide mitigation needs for Tucson residents.

ADEQ completed the CTPP Work Plan in June 2020 and initiated field work in October 2020. ADEQ installed a network of eight new groundwater monitoring wells, collected and analyzed soil, sediment and groundwater data to determine the location and extent of two PFAS compounds, and designed the demonstration remedy. ADEQ broke ground on construction of the wellhead treatment system for the CTPP demonstration remedy in July 2021 and is awaiting delivery of treatment system components. ADEQ expects to complete the remaining construction for the demonstration remedy and system startup by the end of 2021. ADEQ will design a full-scale remedy based on demonstration remedy and other site data and construction is anticipated to begin in early 2023.

When PFAS was first detected in 2018, Tucson Water shut down backup wells located to the north of DMAFB from its drinking water distribution system to ensure that the public water supply remained safe to drink. Although DOD is actively investigating sources of PFAS contamination from federal facilities, Tucson Water requested ADEQ’s assistance to expedite action, concurrent with the ongoing federal environmental investigation, to prevent additional well impacts in the short-term. While Colorado River water is the primary drinking water source for Tucson today, the aquifer in the Central Basin is critical as an alternate drinking water supply for over 600,000 residents in the future.

Residents and businesses who receive their drinking water from Tucson Water are continuing to receive healthy drinking water.

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