Governor Doug Ducey signed legislation this week to establish new clean water rules, following a rollback of federal protections for ephemeral waterways last year. KNAU’s Melissa Sevigny reports.
The Surface Water Protection Program creates a list of nearly eight hundred rivers, streams and lakes that are protected from harmful pollutants under a new statewide permitting system. It’s the state’s first water-quality bill signed into law since the early nineties. It follows the Environmental Protection Agency’s 2020 decision to remove federal protections for waterways that don’t flow year-round. Supporters of the new program say clean water regulation should fall to the state and not the federal government. But some conservation groups say the bill isn’t strong enough and needs to incorporate more scientific data and public review. The Arizona Department of Water Quality is working on a draft list of protected waters.