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WQD | Watershed Improvement & Protection

Water Quality Division

Watershed Improvement and Protection

Arizona’s watersheds play a vital role in how we live, work, and recreate. ADEQ protects and sustains Arizona’s watersheds by monitoring their health, identifying exceedances of surface water quality standards, and implementing impactful projects that improve surface water quality.

ADEQ works primarily through voluntary methods to preserve and restore the quality of Arizona’s rivers and streams. Methods are diverse and include:

  • On-the-ground remediation projects
  • Nonpoint source pollution mitigation
  • Citizen Science Program – Arizona Water Watch
  • Watershed plans and setting Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs)

Nonpoint Source Pollution Mitigation

Nonpoint source pollution is non-regulated pollution that occurs when runoff from rainfall or snowmelt travels over land, bringing with it various contaminants like nitrogen, metals, sediment, and bacteria. The contaminated runoff is then deposited into streams, lakes, and rivers.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) provides states funding to address nonpoint source pollution under Clean Water Act Section 319 | Learn More >

ADEQ uses this funding to directly implement on-the-ground projects across the state | Learn More >

ADEQ is actively focusing on nonpoint source pollution at legacy mining sites, where historic human activities are contributing to metal contamination in rivers and streams | Learn More >

ADEQ and its partners are reducing nonpoint source pollution in E.coli-impacted streams | Learn More >

Citizen Science Program – Arizona Water Watch

ADEQ’s Citizen Science Program, or Arizona Water Watch, provides opportunities for scientists of all ages to engage in stream sampling, mapping, flow measurements, and trash clean-ups to help reduce pollution in streams, lakes, and rivers | Learn More >

Watershed Plans and TMDLs

Under the Clean Water Act, states identify and list impaired waterbodies, or those waterbodies not meeting surface water quality standards. States then develop watershed plans and/or set Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs). A TMDL establishes the maximum amount of a pollutant a waterbody can have without exceeding standards. TMDLs in conjunction with watershed plans provide planning tools for restoring surface water quality | Learn More >