US infrastructure money to help Tucson address groundwater contamination

The city of Tucson is getting federal money to clean up contaminants in its groundwater, part of a sum coming from the Infrastructure law passed by Congress this year.

In a press call Wednesday, Tucson Mayor Regina Romero said millions could be available to the city to fund infrastructure projects, like bridge repair and low-emission bus fleets. But money will also go toward groundwater infrastructure.

“The city of Tucson, just like many other cities in America, have detected PFAS in our water systems,” she said.

PFAS are a group of chemicals found in everything from nonstick pans to waterproof clothing. It was also present in a firefighting foam used for years at the Davis-Monthan Air Force Base and the Tucson International Airport. High levels of exposure have been associated with cancer and other health issues.

The city is already carrying out its own cleanup projects, and Romero said the Department of Defense should also pick up some of the cost. But as long-term drought persists, clean groundwater is a necessity right now.

“It was a problem that we the city did not create, but we were paying for it,” she said. “[This infrastructure money] bridges the needs, because they’re urgent needs, we need to act now.”

She said the city is applying for over $100 million in infrastructure funds to help.

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