The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) has proposed to renew Rio Tinto’s current water quality permits to discharge polluted mine water being drained from mining shafts on the company’s private property near Oak Flat.  

You are invited to comment now on the permit renewal.  The comment deadline is September 7, 2016.

Please submit comments now.

Rio Tinto has been draining water from the exiting #9 shaft and mine workings and disposing of stormwater according to the existing permit. This water is minimally treated at private water treatment plant then piped to Queen Creek where it is mixed with CAP water and used for irrigation.  The existing permit allows Rio Tinto to discharge this mine water into Queen Creek, but only after building an additional water treatment plant to further treat the water before discharge.  Rio Tinto has been illegally adding water drained from their new #10 shaft to the permitted flows.

The proposed renewal would significantly weaken water quality protection in the current permit.

The new permit would:

  • Weaken protections in the existing permit
  • Make the #10 shaft discharge legal.
  • Remove the requirement to build an additional water treatment plant to treat water discharged directly into Queen Creek.

The existing permit was too weak to protect Arizona’s groundwater, but the proposed changes to the permit renewal is truly unacceptable.

Please go here to submit your comments.


The draft permit

ADEQ factsheet on the permit renewal

If you want further points, take a look at our comments.