What is an Aquifer Protection Permit?


The Aquifer Protection Permit is designed to protect the groundwater aquifers of the State of Arizona.  The intention of the permit is to prevent further degradation of an aquifer at a point of compliance by
any person/company that operates categorical discharging facilities.

In other words, a company, etc. is not responsible for the degradation of an aquifer until they have an Aquifer Protection Permit. Another important point is that the APP is not a mandate to stop polluting—it only sets the limits of the levels of pollution.


This protection includes the sulfate and TDS levels that everyone says you can't do anything about because they are secondary. This explains why Phelps Dodge Sierrita mine has drug their feet on the permit process for nine years! Of course, it does not explain why "the system" has taken no action, so the levels of high

TDS and sulfate have increased every year until they are double the values of 1995—the year the permit process began for the second time for the Duval/Sierrita mine.


The purpose of an Aquifer Protection Permit (APP) is set forth in the Arizona Revised Statutes (Title 49, Protection of the Environment) and the statutes are listed on the ADEQ web site under the various ADEQ programs (Air, Water, Waste and Tanks).


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 or 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. Point source discharges to navigable waters
  11. Sewage or wastewater treatment facilities

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.


Title 49, Protection of the Environment

Article 3

Aquifer Protection Permits


Permit required to discharge


Groundwater protection permit facilities; schedule; definition


Maximum payment for aquifer protection permit fees; definitions


Procedural requirements for individual permits; annual registration of permittees; fee


Information and criteria for issuing individual permit; definition


Presumptive best available demonstrated control technology


Point of compliance


Criteria for issuing general permit


Storm water general permit


General permit for certain discharges associated with man-made bodies of water


Criteria for developing best management practices


Aquifer pollution information




Temporary emergency waiver


Closure notification and approval


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