Barbara Boschert, a Community Outreach Coordinator with the Arizona Department of Water Quality, said the process for cleaning up groundwater and soil contamination sites in Arizona requires lots of public outreach and input.
“We are really lucky in Arizona that we have very robust community involvement things written into our statutes and our rules,” Boschert said. “We are required to keep the community involved and we like to do it too.”
Although ADEQ is required to conduct interviews with local residents and post updates as various reports and plans for the clean up are completed, Boschert said the goal is to form a Community Advisory Board for the Bahama-Bimini site, made up of local volunteers, who will be kept apprised of the developments and will be charged with giving input on the site and keeping the community informed of any developments.
Boschert said at least five volunteers are needed in order to form the board, and ADEQ had received one application from a local resident prior to Tuesday’s meeting. She said volunteers would commit to attending about three meetings a year, each lasting about two hours.
“It is a minimal time commitment, but we can meet as often as the board wants,” Boschert said.
The Lake Havasu-Holly contamination site does not have a Community Advisory Board because not enough local applications were received to form the board.
Hazel Cox, the project manager for both Bahama-Bimini and Lake Havasu-Holly, said the board and community involvement will be most important as ADEQ wraps up its remedial investigation and starts to move towards planning the actual cleanup efforts. She said the only requirements to join the board is the person must live, work, or own a business in the area.
“Please tell your friends. Send us somebody,” Boschert said.
Applications can be filled out and submitted online at static.azdeq.gov/forms/wqarf_app.pdf.