See also: Agriculture Best Management Practices, Vehicle Emissions Inspection Program, Water Quality Appeals Board, Water Infrastructure Finance Program
The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality was created by Laws 1986, Chapter 368 with an effective date of July 1, 1987. Statutory authority is found at A.R.S. §§49-101 et seq.
ADEQ manages a variety of state and federal programs related to air quality, water quality, solid waste, and hazardous waste. ADEQ is responsible for administering state environmental laws and shares regulatory responsibility for certain federal programs delegated to the state from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Those federal programs include the Clean Air Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act, the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System program and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act program. Federal delegation requires enactment of state laws that are at least as stringent as the federal law and adequate state resources to manage the program.
The department is organized into four divisions: air quality, water quality, waste and administration. The agency is headed by a director, appointed by the Governor.
The Air Quality Division issues air quality permits, monitors air quality and concentration of air pollutants, predicts dispersion of air pollution using mathematical modeling, and administers the vehicle emissions inspection program.
The Water Quality Division develops water quality standards; regulates public drinking water systems; monitors surface and groundwater quality; issues permits; regulates discharges from drinking water and wastewater treatment plants, mining operations, industrial facilities and storm water; administers the state Aquifer Protection Program; manages the contamination prevention program for agricultural use pesticides; and works with federal, state and local governments to monitor and improve water quality. The division also administers the Arizona Pollutant Discharge Elimination Program (AZPDES), issuing permits to facilities that discharge to surface water, conducting inspections and enforcing permit conditions.
The Waste Programs Division regulates facilities and generators of solid and hazardous waste; regulates waste tire management facilities; issues permits; conducts inspections; administers programs related to operation and maintenance of underground storage tanks; oversees remediation of contaminated sites; administers the State Assurance Fund; and encourages recycling.
The Administrative Division establishes overall agency policies and manages administrative and business activities of the agency. (OSPB Master List of State Programs, 2015.)
Prior to the establishment of ADEQ, responsibility for governmental oversight of air quality, water quality, solid waste and hazardous waste rested with the State Department of Health (1941-1974) and later with the Department of Health Services (1974-1987). The Water Quality Control Council and Division of Air Pollution Control were both established in 1967, under the jurisdiction of the State Department of Health.
Governor Babbitt’s state of the state address on January 13, 1986 called for comprehensive measures to address pollution, specifically the need to protect groundwater and improve air quality. He referred to the failure to develop a comprehensive water quality law after three years of discussions and pledged to lead a working group that would produce a compromise.
In 1986, after a series of lengthy stakeholder meetings, the legislature approved HB 2518, which added Title 49, (Environment) to the Arizona Revised Statutes, established a new state agency and transferred responsibility for various programs from other state agencies to the newly created Arizona Department of Environmental Quality. ADEQ would administer the state’s environmental protection programs to “consolidate and focus responsibility for environmental management and administration of water quality, air quality, solid waste and hazardous waste regulation with the goal of increasing effectiveness, efficiency and public acceptance of environmental regulation.” (Laws 1986, Chapter 368, Purpose clause)
ADEQ would also eventually assume state responsibility for several federal programs, including the Clean Water Act, Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, Safe Drinking Water Act, and the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act of 1980 (also known as ‘Superfund’). ADEQ responsibilities have been modified many times since 1986, with certain specific enactments described in the following section.
Laws 1986, Chapter 368 was a comprehensive measure establishing a new state agency, the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality. The measure addressed a number of issues, including the use of pesticides; state water quality standards; protection of groundwater aquifers; monitoring; remedial and mitigation measures; liability; private rights of action; enforcement actions; civil penalties; criminal offenses and appeals. The measure established the Water Quality Appeals Board within the Department of Administration administrative and outlined transition and succession of responsibility from the Department of Health Services to the ADEQ.
Responsibility for regulating underground storage tanks was transferred from the Department of Health Services to DEQ by Laws 1987, Chapter 317.
In 1990, the “Arizona Solid Waste Recycling Act” encouraged recycling to decrease the volume of solid waste, reduce the toxicity of the waste stream, aid in conservation and recovery of resources, conserve energy and increase the supply of reusable raw materials. The act established the Arizona recycling program, administered by ADEQ; included a state agency recycling materials procurement program; and required recycling of waste paper by state agencies. The purpose clause described the need to develop markets by removing regulatory barriers to recycling and to authorize the purchase of recycled materials for use by state agencies. A second measure enacted that year established the waste tire disposal program to regulate storage, disposal and recycling of waste tires. See Laws 1990, Chapter 378 and Chapter 389.
Laws 1991, Chapter 315 addressed the operation and impacts of a state hazardous waste facility, outlined requirements related to management and transportation of hazardous materials and hazardous waste, and prohibited importations of hazardous and special waste generated outside the state.
The Water Quality Assurance Revolving Fund was established to provide a source of monies to clean up groundwater contamination caused by the release of hazardous substances. Laws 1997, Chapter 287 revised the Water Quality Assurance Revolving Fund program, including funding sources and the method to determine liability for the cost of cleaning up contaminated sites.
Also enacted in 1997 was the greenfields pilot program, intended to encourage voluntary cleanup of contaminated land to allow for redevelopment and other uses. Cleanup of the contaminated soil had to be performed by a remediation specialist, certified by the Board of Technical Registration (BTR). The measure appropriated funds to ADEQ and BTR for the program. See Laws 1997, Chapter 296.
The federal Clean Air Act requires areas that fail to meet established national ambient air quality standards to implement controls in order to meet appropriate standards. Legislation was enacted in 1998 to address EPAs reclassification of Area A (Maricopa County) from ‘moderate’ to ‘serious’ for three pollutants; carbon monoxide, particulates and ozone. Law 1998, Chapter 217 established new air quality regulations and emissions control requirements.
Laws 1999, Chapter 295 authorized ADEQ to implement a Brownfields Cleanup Revolving Loan Fund program to provide loans to encourage remediation of contaminated sites. The measure also allowed ADEQ to apply for grants and other financial assistance from the federal government and other public and private sources.
Laws 2000, Chapter 162 required ADEQ to identify polluted water bodes and implement a total maximum daily load (TMDL) program to improve the quality of the water to standards established by the Clean Water Act. TMDL is an estimate of the amount of pollutants that can be added to a body of water while still allowing the water to maintain applicable surface water quality standards.
Laws 2001, Chapter 357 authorized ADEQ to establish an Arizona Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (AZPDES) consistent with federal requirements. EPA requires all point sources that discharge pollutants to waters of the United States to obtain a permit, as outlined in the federal Clean Water Act. The measure also required ADEQ to seek state primacy from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in order to assume responsibility for the discharge program.
Laws 2011, Chapter 214 required the state to adopt additional measures to reduce PM-10 (particulate matter ten microns in size and smaller) and dust emissions in the Maricopa County nonattainment area.
In 2015, the ADEQ succeeded to the authority, powers, duties and responsibilities of the Arizona Emergency Response Commission. Laws 2015, Chapter 208 designated ADEQ as the lead agency with responsibility for developing a state hazardous materials emergency management program and transferred responsibilities formerly held by the Commission to ADEQ. The measure modified the structure of the Commission, changing it to 12 members, and eliminated the advisory committee.
Laws 2016, Chapter 128 transferred the responsibility to provide staff support to the Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (OGCC) from the Arizona Geological Survey to ADEQ. The measure also requires monies collected by the OGCC from the sale of maps and reports to be deposited in the ADEQ Permit Administration Fund and used to cover the cost of additional OGCC publications. A second measure enacted in 2016 added administration of the Water Pollution Control Program to the ADEQ’s responsibilities. See Laws 2016, Chapter 372, Section 66.
Several measures enacted in 2017 addressed ADEQ responsibilities.
Laws 2017, Chapter 29 added options for determining compliance with certain vehicle emissions standards. The measure also continued the Compliance Advisory Panel indefinitely. The panel was established as part of the small business stationary source technical and environmental compliance assistance program and had been scheduled to terminate on July 1, 2017.
Laws 2017, Chapter 213 transferred authority for administration of the Small Water Systems Fund from the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality to WIFA and changed the name of the fund to the Small Drinking Water Systems Fund. The measure also modified uses of Fund monies and procedures related to grants.
Laws 2017, Chapter 225 modified air quality requirements regarding emissions reduction credits and the Arizona Emissions Bank.
Laws 2017, Chapter 315 repealed the Water Quality Assurance Revolving Fund Advisory Board.
Laws 2018, Chapter 170 authorized ADEQ to establish and operate a state program that meets federal permit requirements related to permitting injection wells in order to seek state primacy for the U.S. Underground Injection Control Program. Monies from the Water Quality Fee Fund may be used to implement and administer the Program.
Laws 2018, Chapter 225 authorized ADEQ to adopt a program for discharging dredge and fill material into navigable waters and to submit an application to the EPA for the state to assume primacy for the U.S. Dredge and Fill Permit Program. If the EPA does not approve the state’s application for primacy by August 1, 2023, the authority granted to ADEQ by this measure is repealed. During the process of establishing and assuming jurisdiction for the program, ADEQ and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will work to process pending applications and requests for jurisdictional determinations.
Several measures enacted in 2019 addressed ADEQ responsibilities.
The first measure outlined a process for reimbursement of costs from the Underground Storage Tank Revolving Fund; prescribed a method to calculate the amount of a lien on the property to cover unrecovered cleanup costs incurred by the Department; and modified amounts available for reimbursement. See Laws 2019, Chapter 114.
The second measure, Laws 2019, Chapter 254, authorized DEQ to submit a request to the Arizona Corporation Commission to take corrective action within 30 days in order to expedite a wastewater treatment facility or system compliance with an administrative order, civil action or to resolve an emergency.
The third measure allows DEQ to use $6.5 million from the Underground Storage Tank Revolving Fund for administrative costs of the Department and to remediate sewage discharge issues in Naco, Arizona and other border areas of the state. See Laws 2019, Chapter 269.
- Arizona Revised Statutes §§49-101 et seq.
- Arizona Administrative Code §§R18-1-101 et seq.
- Session Laws
- Laws 1986, Chapter 368
- Laws 1987, Chapter 317
- Laws 1990, Chapter 378 and Chapter 389
- Laws 1991, Chapter 315
- Laws 1997, Chapter 296
- Laws 1998, Chapter 217
- Laws 1999, Chapter 295
- Laws 2000, Chapter 162
- Laws 2001, Chapter 357
- Laws 2011, Chapter 214
- Laws 2015, Chapter 208
- Laws 2016, Chapter 128 and Chapter 372
- Laws 2017, Chatper 29, Chapter 213, Chapter 255, and Chapter 315
- Laws 2018, Chapter 170 and Chapter 225
- Laws 2019, Chapter 114, Chapter 254 and Chapter 269
ADEQ Annual Reports 2000-2009.
Arizona Department of Environmental Quality websiteL www.azdeq.gov
Arizona Auditor General Performance Audit: Department of Environmental Quality – Sunset Factors, Report No. 13-10.
Air Quality Strategies Task Force established in 1996 by Governor Symington. Executive Order 96-6.
Master List of State Programs www.ospb.state.az.us
Related collections at Arizona State Archives
- RG 50 – Arizona Department of Health Services
- RG 147 – Arizona Department of Environmental Quality