Read the full article by Chorus Nylander (KVOA Tucson News)

“PHOENIX (KVOA) – The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality announced Thursday that it has begun field work to address the Perfluorinated Alkyl Substances (PFAS) threat to the City of Tucson’s drinking water supply. 

It said work is well underway and continues moving ahead. ADEQ said it has dedicated $3.3 million from its limited Water Quality Assurance Revolving Fund to stop PFAS from impacting key Tucson drinking water sources. ADEQ’s Central Tucson PFAS Project is focused on delineating and capturing PFAS-contaminated groundwater to prevent it from impacting additional drinking water production wells.  

According to ADEQ, multiple and distinct areas of groundwater contaminated with PFAS above the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Health Advisory Level have been identified in Tucson. Some of this contamination is encroaching on Tucson Water’s backup drinking water supply wells. It said 18 Tucson Water backup drinking water supply wells have been shut down due to PFAS, resulting in a loss of 10 percent system well capacity. 

Tucson Water estimates an associated unfunded future replacement cost for these wells at tens of millions of dollars. Without this additional work by ADEQ, more drinking water supply wells in Tucson could be impacted. 

ADEQ said Tucson Water identified PFAS originating from Davis Monthan Air Force Base as a priority threat to the City’s water supply. Although the U.S. Department of Defense 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. 

Located to the north of DMAFB, the backup wells were disconnected from the drinking water distribution system in 2018 when PFAS was first detected to ensure that the public water supply remains safe to drink. 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…”