Tucson agencies discuss PFAS solutions

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — It’s a complex issue and one that takes many agencies to fix.

The Unified Community Advisory Board (UCAB) had their quarterly meeting discussing the Tucson International Airport Area EPA Superfund Site and Tucson Airport Remediation Project on Wednesday.

Last month, former Governor Ducey allocated $25 million of federal funds towards Tucson Water to remove possible cancer-causing chemicals from water also known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl (PFAS).

This money will help Tucson Water build additional treatment processes of contaminated water, but it’ll take more than just Tucson Water to tackle this issue.

PFAS, also known as forever chemicals, was found in firefighting foam that is no longer used. That foam polluted groundwater for decades.

Meeting attendee, Patricia Carrillo, believes this pollution gave her cancer in the 1980s.

“It’s been a challenge and I am blessed that I am not as sick as other people in the community are. There’s a lot of people that are facing very difficult life challenges with the water and the fact that there is no permanent resolution.”

Carrillo said she attends meetings often also participating in Las Aguas, an organization focusing on water contamination on Tucson’s southside.

Tucson Water has spent more than $30 million to address PFAS locally, turning off contaminated wells and removing PFAS at this water treatment center.

“We’ve been proactive in shutting wells down where we’ve discovered PFAS in older well supplies,” said John Kmiec, the Director of Tucson Water.

This site stopped distributing drinking water last year after discovery of PFAS and is pumping the water for other sources.

“Now, we still treat for it, but we’re sending it to the Santa Cruz River treated as opposed to historically we used to treat water from this facility and send for drinking water,” said Kmiec.

Several agencies along Tucson Water like the Tucson Airport Authority, University of Arizona, Air National Guard all discussed ways they’re making improvements to remedies for water contamination.

Carrillo said this isn’t a quick fix and she encourages more community members to attend these meetings to learn about what these agencies are doing.

“Come and be heard. Come and listen to what the experts are saying so that we can find a peaceful resolution and good health resolution for everybody in our community and to protect future generations from getting sick,” said Carrillo.

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Faith Abercrombie is a reporter for KGUN 9. Before coming to KGUN, Faith worked as a videographer for the Phoenix Children’s Hospital Foundation and as a reporter and producer on the youth suicide documentary, “Life is…” on Arizona PBS.
Share your story ideas with Faith by emailing [email protected] or by connecting on Facebook, or Twitter.

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