Money for the impending Marana and Tucson cleanups of PFAS groundwater contamination will come from the state, but the funding sources for expected future cleanups are unknown at this time.
One state program has given Marana a $16 million loan for its cleanup. Another state program gave the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality $3.3 million for its Tucson cleanup.
In the future, Marana must find another source to pay back the loan.
Also, ADEQ and other agencies must find sources to pay for a complete cleanup of PFAS chemicals in Tucson wells north of Davis-Monthan Air Force Base along with a separate contamination plume on the city’s south side.
Here are some details:
- Marana took out a $16 million loan in 2018 to build and operate two treatment plants from the State Water Infrastructure Financing Authority. It finances construction of water and wastewater cleanup and treatment projects.
- ADEQ got the $3.3 million it is spending on analyzing and cleaning up PFAS pollution near D-M from the Water Quality Assurance Revolving Fund.
It was created in 1986 with passage of the State Environmental Quality Act, which led to creation of ADEQ. The fund “supports ADEQ in identifying, prioritizing, assessing and resolving the threat of contaminated soil and groundwater sites in the state,” says ADEQ.
For Marana, loan repayment money could come from a lawsuit that the city of Tucson filed — and the town joined — against the 3M company, a manufacturer of PFAS compounds, to get it to pay these entities and others around the U.S. for groundwater cleanup costs.
But “we’re not holding our breath on that,” said Marana Water Director Scott Schladweiler.
Town officials also will consider dipping into the general fund or possibly raising sales tax rates or using some existing sales tax revenues to pay for loan repayment.
One step they won’t take is raising water rates, Schladweiler said.
“This will not be put on the backs of existing (water) customers,” he said.
As for the Tucson cleanup, Mayor Regina Romero wrote Congress last spring, asking for financial help for the cleanup. To date, none has come in, although Congress did pass legislation last year requiring the Defense Department to negotiate for PFAS groundwater cleanups if a state’s governor requests negotiations.
ADEQ director Mishael Cabrera has asked the U.S. Defense Department to help fund it because of the pollution’s proximity to Davis-Monthan Air Force Base.
“ADEQ has not yet received a response and continues to monitor the situation,” the agency said.