Water Quality Division: Permits: Aquifer Protection Permits (APP)

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General Information

You need to obtain an Aquifer Protection Permit, or APP if you own or operate a facility that discharges a pollutant either directly to an aquifer, to the land surface or the vadose zone (the area between an aquifer and the land surface) in such a manner that there is a reasonable probability that the pollutant will reach an aquifer.

  • See A.R.S. § 49-201(12) for statutory definition of discharge
  • A.R.S. §§ 49-241 through 49-252, and A.A.C. R18-9-101 through R18-9-403 for statutes and rules related to APP

The following facilities are considered to be "discharging" and require permits, unless exempted, or the director determines that the facility will be designed, constructed and operated so there will be no migration of pollutants directly to the aquifer or to the vadose zone:

  1. Surface impoundments, pits, ponds, and lagoons
  2. Solid waste disposal facilities, except for mining overburden and wall rock that has not been subject to mine leaching operations
  3. Injection wells
  4. Land treatment facilities
  5. Facilities adding pollutants to a salt dome, salt beds, or salt formations, drywells, underground caves, or mines
  6. Mine tailings piles and ponds
  7. Mine leaching operations
  8. Septic tank systems
  9. Underground water storage facilities (if wastewater-effluent is used)
  10. Sewage or wastewater treatment facilities
  11. Wetlands designed and constructed to treat municipal and domestic wastewater for underground storage

ADEQ issues both general and individual APPs. ADEQ will help you determine if the facility qualifies for a general permit or an exemption upon request.



There are currently 24 types of facilities specified under A.R.S. § 49-250 as exempt from requiring an APP. In addition, there are four class exemptions and two activities to which the program does not apply.


"Clean closure" means implementation of all actions specified as closure requirements in a permit and elimination to the greatest degree practicable, of any reasonable probability of further discharge from the facility and of exceeding aquifer water quality standards at the applicable point of compliance. Clean closure also means post-closure monitoring and maintenance are unnecessary.

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LEAN Effort

Since the mid 2000's, many environmental agencies have been using Lean continuous improvement philosophy to improve their operations and to more efficiently protect human health and the environment. Process improvements using Lean help agencies improve the effectiveness, efficiency, and transparency of their programs and services by identifying waste and by eliminating non-value added activities (e.g., waiting, rework, doing unnecessary work, handoffs).

In May, 2012, the Water Quality Division began process improvement efforts with the Individual Aquifer Protection Permit Program. In an exercise involving staff and customers, the permit process was examined in detail and non-valued added process steps were eliminated. Further, tools that will assist customers in preparing complete applications and aid staff in condensing the time necessary to develop and issue permits have been developed and are described below.

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Individual Permits (A.R.S. § 49-241)

ADEQ encourages applicants to schedule a pre-application meeting to discuss issues relevant to permitting such as groundwater monitoring, design, operations and closures. While not mandatory, a pre-application meeting will help the applicant in completing the Individual Permit Application and preparing any supporting documentation (e.g., hydrologic review, BADCT documents, financial assurance demonstrations). A thorough, complete application will generally result in quicker processing times and lower overall processing fees.

As part of the recent process improvement efforts, ADEQ has developed a number of tools to assist both the applicant and staff; application forms, meeting agendas and checklists. ADEQ encourages applicants to use these checklists in preparing relevant portions of the application packet as staff will use these same forms when reviewing the application.

As part of its process improvement effort, ADEQ is offering an optional administrative completeness review (ACR) meeting where the project management team will meet with an applicant to assess the completeness of the application packet. The Administrative Completeness Checklist will aid the applicant in preparing a complete submittal. At the end of the ACR meeting, ADEQ will either accept the application as "administratively complete" or return the entire submittal back to the applicant with clear explanation of the deficiencies. Applications found to be administratively complete will be advanced to the substantive review phase at the close of the meeting. It is estimated this may save between 4-6 weeks of process time.

Applications, Checklists, Documents, and Publications
  Permitting Process Flow Chart
  Pre-Application Meeting
  Administrative Review Meeting Agenda
  Substantive Review Agenda
  Individual Permit Application
  Individual Permit Application Amendment
  208 Consistency Review
  Individual Framework
Checklists used by ADEQ Staff
  Administrative Review - WWTP, Mining, and Industrial
  Hydrology Technical Review - WWTP, Mining, and Industrial
  Engineering Technical Review - WWTP
  Engineering Technical Review - Mining and Industrial
  Closure and Post-closure Plan and Cost Estimate Checklist
ADEQ Guidance Documents
  BADCT Mining Manual
  Clean Closure Manual
  Blaney-Criddle   Spreadsheet (Excel)   Explanation and Use (PDF)
ADEQ Statutes and Rules
  Point of Compliance
  Aquifer Water Quality Standards
  Aquifer Protection Permit Rules (R18-9)

There are numerous requirements specified in 18 A.A.C. 9, Article 2, however, special attention should be paid to the following items:

  1. Best Available Demonstrated Control Technology (BADCT, pronounced "bad cat"). The applicant must show that the best demonstrated control technology will be used by the facility.
  2. The applicant must show that Aquifer Water Quality Standards (AWQS) will not be exceeded in the aquifer at the point of compliance as a result of discharge from the facility. If the level of a pollutant in the aquifer already exceeds the AWQS at the time of permit issuance, the aquifer must not be further degraded as a result of the discharge.
  3. The applicant must show that they have the financial and technical capability to operate in accordance with the permit.

Permit Duration

In most cases, individual permits are issued for the operational life of the facility.

Area-Wide Individual Permits (A.R.S. § 49-243(P))

Area-wide permits may be issued instead of several individual permits to cover facilities under common ownership in a contiguous geographic area. Discharge reduction in the pollutant management area and the demonstration that aquifer water quality standards will not be violated or further degraded can be evaluated collectively for existing facilities. This type of permit is most applicable to large mining and industrial sites with multiple discharging facilities. An applicant must complete an Individual Permit Application.

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General Permits

There are currently 45 general permits ranging from permits requiring department notification to permits authorized by simply meeting the criteria specified in rule.

Most permit conditions are listed under 18 A.A.C. 9, Article 3. However, A.R.S. § 49-245.01 and 49-245.02 list specific permit conditions for:

  • Facilities that manage stormwater regulated by the Clean Water Act
  • Certain vadose zone injection wells, subsurface discharges, and point source discharges to waters of the United States from man-made bodies of water associated with golf courses, parks and residential common areas containing groundwater, stormwater, reclaimed wastewater or a combination of these.

Types of General Permits

The following Type 2, 3, and 4 General Permits are available to download in PDF format.

General Permit Renewal and Permit Transfer

Type 2 and 3 general permits need to be periodically renewed (See Discharge Authorization Renewal Form below for details). Type 4 general permits are valid for the operational life of the facility.

Permit Renewal Forms

  • Type 2 Discharge Authorization Renewal Form (Revised March, 2014) (Word) (PDF)
  • Type 3 Discharge Authorization Renewal Form (Revised March, 2014) (Word) (PDF)

Permit Transfer Forms (to be completed by the buyer)

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Notices of Intent (NOIs), Supplemental NOIs and Fees