For Immediate Release | 3-1-2021
Media Contact | Office of Commissioner Anna Tovar
Direct | 602-542-3935
E-Mail | Tovar-Web@azcc.gov
Commissioner Anna Tovar Leads in Investigating and Protecting Customers from Contaminated Water
PHOENIX - Arizona Corporation Commissioner Anna Tovar launched an investigation into the recent announcement from Luke Air Force Base that several wells serving customers in Valley Utilities Water Company (Valley utilities) tested over the Environmental Protection Agency's Lifetime Health Advisory for perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA).
Valley Utilities is located just west of Luke Air Force Base and serves an average 825,000 gallons of water per day to approximately 4700 people. All 4700 people have been advised by the Base to use bottled water for drinking and cooking until further notice. The PFOA and PFOS contamination has been traced to foam the Base has been using in its fire training exercises since 1970.
"I'm opening an investigation to make sure customers have the information they need to keep their families safe. I want to make sure the residents and businesses near the Base can trust the water coming out of their taps." the Commissioner said after opening her investigative docket.
"The Corporation Commission has the power to examine the books and records of the utilities we regulate," she added. "We have the power to make sure customers are informed and we have the power to make sure the remediation is reasonable, prudent, and lasting. I requested information from Valley Utilities so we know: (1) when it learned about the contamination; (2) how it responded once it had notice; (3) how it intends to fix the situation; and, (4) how it plans to operate moving forward so this doesn’t happen again. Customers are my primary concern and I will make sure they are Valley Utilities' first priority as well."
PFOS and PFOA contamination is linked to adverse health effects including cancer and developmental issues in fetuses and infants. They are known as "forever chemicals," meaning that without treatment, they will remain in the water indefinitely. Today, as part of her investigation, Commissioner Tovar visited the PFOA and PFOS treatment infrastructure at Liberty Utilities in Litchfield Park. Liberty is also adjacent to the Base and has been filtering its water to remove PFOA and PFOS since the EPA first identified the risk in 2016.
The next step in the investigation will be Wednesday, March 3rd, when the Commission will convene for an Emergency Open Meeting to discuss the situation and question the utilities serving the area surrounding the Base. Commissioner Tovar encourages customers and interested parties to tune in to that meeting virtually or by phone and to contact her office with questions, concerns, or additional information on her investigation.
To view Commissioner Tovar's investigative docket, including her requests for information on Valley Utilities, click here. For more information on the March 3, 2021 Emergency Open Meeting, click here.