Tucson Water receives federal funding to combat PFAS, construct new water treatment facility

Katya Mendoza
4 Min Read

Local and regional water leaders gathered at the Sweetwater Wetlands Park in Tucson, on Thursday, Nov. 16, to celebrate investments made into the city’s water infrastructure.

This week, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a $30 million investment to combat existing and emerging contaminants in Tucson’s aquifer known as per-and polyfluorinated substances or, PFAS.

Thanks to funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL), Tucson Water will build a second drinking water treatment facility for residents in the northwest side of Tucson and southern Marana,

John Kmiec, Director of Tucson Water said the investment will bring back three out of 28 wells that Tucson Water had previously shut off three years ago.

“By having those wells come back into the Tucson Water portfolio, through advanced treatment we’ll be able to recover 3.7 million gallons a day of potable drinking water that then can be returned to the northwest side of Tucson,” Kmiec said.

The plan is estimated at $33 million dollars, however, a little over $10 million of the estimated price tag is considered a “forgivable principal.”

“That’s where the Bipartisan Infrastructure Act money is essentially paying about one third of the cost for this treatment plant by not having that portion of the loan attributable to the city of Tucson, it’s being paid in advance,” Kmiec said.

Radhika Fox, the EPA’s assistant administrator for water, said the federal agency is focused on resources to help remediate PFAS contamination and holding polluters accountable.

“In just a few months we will also be finalizing the first national drinking water standard for PFAS,” Fox said.

In March, the EPA proposed the National Primary Drinking Water Regulation (NPDWR) to establish a Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) for six PFAS.

“In the last two years, we’ve put about $13 billion to our state partners, funding about 2,600 local water projects just like this all around the country,” Fox said.