Water Quality Division

Image of water taken under the water with a close-up of air bubbles rasing to the surface

Learn More About the Water Quality Programs

The Water Quality Division (WQD) protects and enhances public health and the environment by ensuring healthy drinking water is provided by public water systems and by controlling current and future sources of surface and ground water pollution. Our core responsibilities include:

  • Regulating the treatment and discharge of wastewater. 
  • Monitoring and assessing the quality of surface and groundwater throughout the state.
  • Identifying water pollution problems and developing on-the-ground solutions and facilitating their implementation. 
  • Issuing permits to protect Arizona waters from point sources of pollution. 
  • Investigating complaints and violations of Arizona’s water quality laws.

Safe Drinking Water Act

Under the Safe Drinking Water Act, protection of drinking water quality starts with an assessment of the quality of all public water sources and continues through regulations that govern water system design and construction. Drinking water quality is further assured through scheduled tests for a wide variety of potential contaminants. The results of these tests are reported to the WQD and a summary is delivered to customers once a year. As a result of these regulations and continued testing, drinking water supplies in the United States are among the cleanest and safest in the world. Arizona is no exception.

We provide guidance for actions private well owners can take after wildfires, such as damage assessment and water sample testing, to protect their drinking water supply | Learn More >

Groundwater Protection 

ADEQ issues Aquifer Protection Permits (APP) to safeguard Arizona’s groundwater. This program controls the discharge of pollutants from sewage treatment facilities, septic tanks, mining operations and other industrial facilities. It also regulates the direct reuse of reclaimed water.  APPs establish specific discharge limits and monitoring and reporting requirements. They may also require facilities to undertake special measures to protect human health and the environment from harmful pollutants. 

ADEQ’s Pesticide Contamination Prevention Program prevents groundwater contamination from routine agricultural pesticide use. The program regulates agricultural use of pesticides and includes the creation of the Groundwater Protection List, publishing an annual report of the use of pesticides with the potential to reach and impact groundwater | Learn More > 

Surface Water

ADEQ implements a number of Clean Water Act (CWA) programs and Arizona’s Surface Water Protection Program (SWPP) to maintain or enhance surface water quality.

Clean Water Act | Visit EPA Website to Learn More >
Surface Water Protection Program | Learn More >

Water quality is measured against standards adopted or developed to protect public health and the environment. These standards form a legal basis for controlling the amount of pollutants entering a waterbody to protect the designated uses, such as drinking, swimming, agriculture or wildlife habitat | Learn More >

Two categories of pollutants impact water quality: point source and nonpoint source. The Arizona Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (AZPDES) program regulates point sources and requires any entity discharging into a surface water to obtain a permit. Regulated discharges include sewage treatment facilities, construction sites larger than one acre, municipal separate storm sewer systems (MS4s) and a variety of industrial activities. An AZPDES permit includes discharge limits, monitoring and reporting requirements and other conditions necessary to protect public health and the environment | Learn More >

Nonpoint source pollution is non-regulated pollution that occurs when runoff from rainfall or snowmelt travels over land, bringing with it various contaminants like nitrogen, metals, sediment and bacteria. The contaminated runoff is then deposited into streams, lakes and rivers. The CWA provides states with funds to aid in addressing nonpoint source pollution problems | Learn More >