I am writing in response to the July 15, story headlined “State sticks Payson with Superfund cleanup costs.”
According to the first two sentences of the article, “Bad news, Payson water users. The state just stiffed you — again.”
Unfortunately, the news reported in the article is far from a true depiction of the facts. The reality is that the state, through the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality, has spent millions of dollars cleaning up Payson’s groundwater. I don’t think anyone would consider this “stiffing” the city’s water users. ADEQ has worked collaboratively with the city of Payson for the past 15 years to clean up the legacy of a former dry cleaning business that had contaminated some of the local groundwater with toxic solvents. The facts speak for themselves:
ADEQ, through its Water Quality Assurance Revolving Fund (WQARF), the state Superfund program, has spent more than $11 million through June 30 to clean up the site — more money than has been spent on any WQARF site in the state of Arizona.
ADEQ funded the design and construction of three groundwater treatment systems, one of which is still operating, for the cleanup project.
More than 906 million gallons of Payson groundwater have been treated and 650 pounds of chemicals have been removed from the water.
ADEQ staff continues to collect water quality samples and monitor 62 wells at the Payson WQARF site to make sure that the remaining treatment system is operating correctly and that the groundwater plume of contamination is contained.
Now that the state has put into place a system for making sure contamination levels meet public health standards established under the federal Safe Drinking Water Act, the time has come for Payson to resume operation of its public drinking water systems — just like every other municipality of the state.
The state of Arizona and ADEQ remain committed to ensuring that the water served through these systems is safe for the residents of Payson.
At ADEQ, we take our mission of protecting the public health and environment of Arizona seriously. We took the lead in resolving Payson’s groundwater cleanup problems, and even with recent budget cutbacks, ADEQ will continue to be there for Payson residents in the future.
Henry Darwin, director,
Arizona Department of Environmental Quality
Editor’s Note: The story reported the discussion at the Payson Town Council where the council learned they would have to come with $160,000 to replace the money ADEQ is no longer providing for the Superfund cleanup project.