The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality has released a 2021 Year in Review, noting key actions taken to protect human and environmental health. Highlights include:
- Completed the transition of 80% of staff to remote work, saving the state $1.5 million in annual rent expenses annually and 90,000 square feet as a result of its 2015 and 2021 office consolidation.
- Completed 4,478 facility inspections, a record number.
- Responded to more than 900 environmental complaints, an 18% increase over 2020.
- Air Quality – Expanded hourly forecasting for six communities and issued 52 wildfire smoke forecasts (recently recognized by the American Meteorological Society for its 2022 Special Award).
- Brownfields – Returned more than 80 acres to productive use in 12 communities and 16 projects.
- Water Quality – Treated 11.6 billion gallons of groundwater; removed 12,254 pounds of volatile organic compounds and 640 tons of metals and hazardous wastes; and, for the first time, advanced all sites through the remedial investigation phase to the feasibility study phase of the process.
- PFAS – Constructed a pilot demonstration to prevent a PFAS plume from reaching the City of Tucson’s central well field and entered into an environmental services agreement in September with the Air Force Civil Engineer Center for $1.7 million in U.S. Air Force funding for related work.
- Saw the Governor sign its first water quality protection legislation enacted since 1991 with House Bill 2691, State Surface Water Protection Program.
- Offered 50% of its eligible services online via myDEQ, including launching open burn permitting and Underground Storage Tank online customer portals in 2021.
Separately, Arizona DEQ touted achievements since September of its revamped Voluntary Vehicle Repair Program (VVRP). The program saw 197 vehicles repaired in October and 226 vehicles repaired in November, reducing an estimated 34.4 tons of vehicle emissions. Now eligible to all vehicles required to take an emissions inspection test regardless of vehicle age, the program helps motorists who have failed emission inspection tests to offset the costs of repairs to improve Arizona air quality. Since the program began in 2018, VVRP has facilitated the repair or retrofit of more than 6,263 vehicles.