The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) awarded seven Water Quality Improvement Grant (WQIG) awards totaling more than $1.9 million to fund field projects aimed at reducing E. coli, excess nutrients and sediment caused by runoff from non-regulated sources.
The non-regulated sources are four state waterways the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) designates as impaired.
Located in ADEQ water protection plan areas, these waterways include the popular and highly recreated Oak Creek and San Francisco River, as well as the San Pedro River and Granite Creek. Each of these waterways is impaired because rainfall, snowmelt and/or irrigation pick up pollutant-containing sediments and deposit them into the waterway.
Polluted runoff from non-regulated sources, such as agriculture, forestry, grazing and septic systems, threatens public health and the environment and can have harmful effects on drinking water supplies, recreation, fisheries and wildlife.
Common pollutants include nutrients and microbes, such as Cryptosporidium, Giardia Shigella, for which E. coli tests are used to indicate their presence. Water with high levels of E. coli can cause gastrointestinal problems if unintentionally swallowed while swimming.
“ADEQ’s Water Quality Improvement Grant Program arms qualifying parties with funds to support important projects to prevent and address pollution from non-regulated sources,” said ADEQ Water Quality Division Director Trevor Baggiore. “We vet each application using a stringent evaluation process to ensure awarded funds achieve the most impactful environmental benefits and outcomes for impaired waters in Arizona.”
ADEQ’s December 2015 Cycle 18 request for grant applications made about $1.7 million available for qualifying projects. Because the prior cycle projects successfully were completed under budget, a rollover amount of $219,648.84 was available to award and fund two additional projects, increasing Cycle 18 grant funds to $1,919,648.84.
ADEQ encourages eligible parties to learn more and apply for the soon-to-be-announced Cycle 19 grants to continue to protect, restore and improve Arizona’s water quality in priority areas.