For the second year in a row, a number of Arizona cities have been ranked as some of the happiest places to live in the country. Certainly, the state has been attracting residents as Maricopa County took the lead as the fastest growing county in the country. It is an exciting time for the Grand Canyon state. However, as more people move in, demands on the environment become more intense. One way to protect the future is to clean up hazards left over from the past. The Brownfields Assistance Program from the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality provides funds to clean up formerly contaminated sites so they can be put into productive use for the desert's vigorously blooming communities.
Makeovers Make Sense
The ultimate objective in this program is to breathe new life into brownfields, reinventing them as local parks, commercial developments, retail centers, or other beneficial amenities. The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality points out that beyond a cleaner environment, it makes good financial sense to rehabilitate contaminated property. Cleaning up existing sites can usually cost less than starting from scratch. Brownfields are often located in or near areas that have already been developed. So the necessary infrastructure like electricity, water, and roads are already available. These projects have the potential to create more jobs and thus increase tax revenues. Both the environment and the economy benefits.
The Brownfields Assistance Program
Arizona’s Brownfields Assistance Program helps clean up brownfields or properties where reuse is complicated by real or perceived contamination. Funding supports Phase 1 (preliminary ) and Phase II (in-dept) environmental site assessments, as well as asbestos and lead paint surveys and abatement. Properties must meet the following criteria:
- Be contaminated by a suspected or known hazardous substance, petroleum product, or pollutant, and/or be located on mine-scarred land.
- Be an underutilized commercial or industrial site.
- Have redevelopment potential that is complicated by known or perceived contamination from a hazardous substance, as defined by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) Hazardous Substances.
Select Previous Recipients
- The Colorado River Indian Tribes– will perform a Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment on Mosquito Flats, a watershed that has potentially been contaminated with petroleum from storm water runoff. The Phase I Environmental Site Assessment will allow the tribe to apply for future funding for redevelopment.
- The Town of Welton – will rehabilitate an old gas station turned storage unit into a municipal facility that will house the town hall, city council chambers, and a public safety department.
- The Town of Miami– will conduct an asbestos and lead-based paint survey of basement Bullion Plaza Cultural Center and Museum so it can host a future mining exhibit.
- Somerton Elementary School District–will remove and dispose of asbestos-containing materials and lead-based paint in an empty building so it can be put in use fornew classrooms for the school district's growing enrollment.
Applying for the Program
Eligible applicants are Native American tribes, local government, schools and school districts and nonprofits within Arizona. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.