By Arizona Department of Environmental Quality
The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality has published the Arizona Protected Surface Waters List called for by landmark surface water protection legislation signed by Governor Doug Ducey on May 5th, 2021. House Bill 2691 is the first Arizona-specific water quality protection legislation enacted since the Aquifer Protection Program in 1991.
With ADEQ’s implementation of HB2691 and publication of the PSWL, Arizona has achieved a clear and meaningful surface water protection program that provides Arizonans with certainty about which waters are protected as the decades-long debate about the federal Clean Water Act continues.
Arizona’s PSWL specifies all waters protected by the Clean Water Act and the new State Surface Water Protection Program — 883 rivers, streams and lakes critical for drinking, recreation and fish consumption.
To develop the PSWL, ADEQ completed a comprehensive evaluation of Arizona’s waters to determine which waters are covered under both federal and state jurisdictions — not once, but twice. ADEQ accomplished this complex undertaking by leveraging advances in science and technology to create a process and several new analytical tools. These efforts enabled ADEQ to necessarily evaluate Arizona waters for federal jurisdiction first based on the 2020 Navigable Waters Protection Rule, and then again in response to its vacatur in August 2021.
ADEQ will codify the PSWL in December 2023, following the conclusion of ongoing robust stakeholder dialogue.