Arizona Department of Environmental Quality supports Town efforts to address unregulated compounds in drinking water

MARANA - On Thursday, October 4, Town of Marana received a letter of support from the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) for voluntarily pursuing treatment of unregulated compounds in the Airline/Lambert and Picture Rocks water systems, and pursuing funds from the Arizona Water Infrastructure Financing Authority to cover a majority if not all of the costs.

“Though there is no enforceable actions related to these health advisories, we acknowledge and appreciate that Marana is willing to move ahead voluntarily with treatment plans to address these compounds found in your water supply,” wrote Water Quality Division Director Trevor Baggiore. “ADEQ will always support water systems that are looking to advance the quality of their water to protect public health.”

Read the letter here. 

About the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality

ADEQ’s mission is to protect and enhance public health and the environment in Arizona. To achieve this, they administer the state’s environmental laws and delegated federal programs to prevent air, water and land pollution and ensure cleanup.

About the Water Infrastructure Finance Authority of Arizona

WIFA is authorized to finance the construction, rehabilitation and/or improvement of drinking water, wastewater, wastewater reclamation, and other water quality facilities/projects.


Town Council approved Resolution No. 2018-091 on Tuesday, September 25 authorizing the creation of the Picture Rocks water treatment campus capital project and the Airline/Lambert water treatment campus capital projects. The resolution also authorizes the transfer of up to two million dollars in budgeted expenditure authority, and authorizes the application for a clean water state revolving fund loan from the Water Infrastructure Finance Authority of Arizona (WIFA) to fund the construction.

Town of Marana Council made a unanimous decision on Tuesday, August 14, 2018 to pursue design and construction of a water treatment facility for each of the two impacted systems in Marana Water found to contain unregulated compounds. This decision was made after evaluating several solutions, including blending alternatives and other water sources. Constructing water treatment facilities in each of the impacted systems was considered to be the most effective solution to providing safe, clean drinking water now and for future development.

Town of Marana Water Director John Kmiec gave a presentation on unregulated compounds found within two of Marana Water’s water systems to Town Council on Tuesday, August 14. After hearing the history of past water quality issues in southern Arizona, descriptions of the compounds found, and learning about possible solutions to address the compounds, Town Council provided direction to staff to return with a presentation showing financial viability for a water treatment facility at the two impacted systems in Marana Water. 

"We will examine all options including looking at our current resources, our outside financial consultants, and deriving financial alternatives that not only deal with capital cost of construction but also the long-term operations and maintenance," said Town Manager Jamsheed Mehta. 

The August 14 presentation slides can be downloaded and viewed here. Viewers who were not able to attend the public meeting will be able to watch a recording of the presentation here.


  • The Town has two affected water systems with unregulated compounds above EPA health advisories. The systems are the Picture Rocks (Continental Reserve area) system and the Airline/Lambert (Saguaro Bloom area) system.

  • The two compounds of interest are: Perfluorinated compounds (PFOA and PFOS), and 1,4-Dioxane. A health advisory is not an enforceable standard within the Safe Drinking Water Act. It is an early stage in a potential regulatory process, and further studies are required on toxicology and national occurrence to determine if a regulatory standard is needed. 

  • Perfluorinated compounds can commonly be found in any successful stain repellant, water repellant, and grease repellant produced in the last 50 years, and are used in the manufacturing of carpets, furniture, paper packaging, leather, coating additives, car waxes and coatings, fire-resistant materials, and fire fighting foams. Exposure is primarily through diet and dust from products. Outside use of the product can directly expose soil, surface water, and eventually groundwater.  

  • In 2016, the United States Environmental Protection Agency lowered the advisory levels for Perfluorinated compounds. Town of Marana Water conducted a test of its water systems, and found the Picture Rocks and Airline/Lambert water systems, and an individual well (Falstaff) to be in excess of the health advisory level for perfluorinated compounds. 

  • 1,4-Dioxane is a semi-volatile liquid, used widespread as a stabilizer with chlorinated solvents, paint strippers, greases, waxes, and cosmetics. It migrates rapidly in groundwater. Arizona currently does not have an established guideline for 1,4-Dioxane in drinking water, so the Town of Marana is using the current, most conservative federal EPA guidance of 0.35 ug/L (parts per billion). 

  • Multiple tests concluded that the Picture Rocks and  Airline/Lambert water systems, and an individual well (Falstaff water) contained water with levels higher than the advisory level of 0.35 ppb for 1,4-Dioxane. 

  • Recurring tests over the last two years have shown a slight decrease of Perfluorinated compounds and 1,4-Dioxane in the drinking water within the two affected systems. If the current declining trend were to continue, it would still take several years for these compounds to get below the current advisory level. There is no guarantee that the declining trends will continue, or the health advisories will remain the same. 

  • The Town of Marana currently meets regulatory standards as defined by the Safe Drinking Water Act for all of its water systems.


  • COUNCIL DIRECTION- Alternative two: Develop an advanced water treatment approach for each system. Water treatment would require a multi-million dollar capital improvement project for each impacted system to completely remove or destroy the target compounds from the water.


September 27, 2018: Town Council authorizes creation of water treatment systems for impacted systems

August 15, 2018: Marana Town Council opts for water treatment solution

Visit Marana Water Quality for more information.