Tucson community members can tune in to learn more about groundwater cleanup

Members of the Tucson community can tune in to a Zoom call Thursday night to hear Department of Defense personnel talk about the future of groundwater cleanup.

Tucson City Councilman Steve Kozachik said the situation was especially urgent now. Late last month, the Bureau of Reclamation told lower basin states, including Arizona, they needed to conserve an additional 2 million to 4 million acre-feet of Colorado River water to preserve supply. , even for 2023.

“We hadn’t considered the need to reach groundwater anytime soon until the Bureau of Reclamation reached out and threw this curve ball at us a few weeks ago,” Kozachik said.

But some groundwater in Tucson is still contaminated with PFAS, a group of chemicals linked to a range of health issues like cancer. The chemicals were present in fire-fighting foam that was used for years at Davis Monthan Air Force Base and compromised nearby groundwater.

PFAS are a broad group of chemicals found in products ranging from non-stick cookware to waterproof materials. Last month, the Environmental Protection Agency announced it was tightening guidelines on certain PFAS-family chemicals found in Tucson and elsewhere.

The city is now working to clean up that water, as part of an effort to make the supply ready to drink. But the process is expensive, Kozachik says, the city has already committed some $50 million of its own money to the effort. He says federal entities must participate in funding the cleanup.

“We keep track of that, and they’ll have to heal us at some point,” he said. “It’s going to be multiple treatment plans around the community because the problem exists around the community … and the fact that the EPA has lowered the contamination level to less than one part per trillion and the fact that the river Colorado is drying up…that’s a problem right now.”

Kozachik said the purpose of hosting the meeting is for community members to hear from the Department of Defense about what’s happening with the cleanup and what’s still to come.

About Jefferey G. Cannon

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