SAN FRANCISCO — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reached an agreement with the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) to improve the state’s stormwater management program as part of EPA’s national effort to reduce pollution of waterways by runoff from cities and statewide transportation agencies. ADOT manages 18,000 travel lane miles across the state, and stormwater runoff from its roads and maintenance facilities contain pollutants such as metals, sediment, oil, grease, pesticides and trash.
ADOT voluntarily addressed many of EPA’s concerns by enhancing its program with the addition of new positions in its Office of Environmental Services, and by mapping its storm drain outfalls and roadside water filters. Detailed mapping allows the state to predict where flows will go and how best to contain them, information critical in emergency situations such as tanker truck spills. The agreement requires ADOT to conduct additional corrective measures and establishes a series of compliance dates to resolve by March 2014 the remaining findings of an EPA audit.
“The protection of surface waters is a priority in a desert environment, and cutting stormwater pollution from roads is a key goal under the Clean Water Act,” said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “We are confident the progress ADOT has taken thus far, along with the actions they commit to in this agreement, will improve water quality throughout Arizona.”
The agreement is the result of EPA’s week-long audit in October 2010, which evaluated ADOT’s compliance with its municipal stormwater permit. The audit included inspections of 57 ADOT construction sites and maintenance facilities in four districts encompassing Phoenix, Flagstaff, Tucson and Prescott, and included document reviews, interviews and field verification inspections. The permit was issued by the state of Arizona under the Clean Water Act to protect the state’s water resources from polluted runoff.
Since 2001, EPA’s Pacific Southwest Region has conducted numerous audits of municipal stormwater programs, including state transportation agencies, to evaluate program effectiveness and assess compliance with their permits.