The Department of Environmental Quality State of the Environment report highlights the many accomplishments and successes our agency has had throughout the previous year. Click the tabs below to view each Division’s 2022 metrics, success stories, and quotes from partners.
Division of Air Quality
The Division of Air Quality (DAQ) works to ensure that Utah’s air quality meets health and visibility standards by enacting policies and plans, issuing permits, conducting research, and verifying compliance with state and federal air-quality rules. Over the past year, they have accomplished this through stakeholder outreach, cross-agency partnerships, and forward thinking when it came to addressing community-level air quality concerns.
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DAQ major and minor compliance had a 95% compliance rate
|Oil and Gas
Wasatch Front Sectors, Biogenics not included:
|Oil and Gas
“As a resident of the Wasatch Front, I am grateful to the Utah Division of Air Quality for their tireless efforts to understand and address our air quality challenges. As an air quality researcher, I appreciate their efforts to translate scientific findings as sound policy. I am also grateful for their collaboration on issues ranging from understanding neighborhood-scale pollution levels to impacts of dust from the Great Salt Lake.”
—Kerry E. Kelly, PhD
Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering at the University of Utah
Community Outreach and Cross-Agency-Collaboration to Reduce Health Risk from Ethylene Oxide in Utah
Ethylene Oxide (EtO), a toxic air pollutant, has recently been recognized by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as having a higher toxicity and lifetime cancer risk through inhalation than previously known. Medical device sterilization facilities have been identified as significant sources of EtO, and Salt Lake County has two of these facilities. EPA modeling found that over 500 Sandy residents were being exposed to levels of EtO that increased their lifetime cancer risk.
To address the concern of EtO exposure, Division of Air Quality (DAQ) scientist Dr. Nancy Daher and her colleague Dr. Rod Handy with the University of Utah applied for and were awarded EPA funding to conduct a study estimating the potential risk from exposure to EtO in communities near these facilities. What began as an exploratory study quickly transformed into a collaborative community outreach effort that included representatives from EPA Region 8, Sandy City, Salt Lake County, and the Utah Department of Health and Human Services. Information on how EtO impacts the health of local residents and actions that are being taken to reduce that risk was shared through public community meetings.
As a result of continued partnership and outreach, both medical sterilization facilities have committed to installing controls to reduce their EtO emissions to levels that will significantly lower the risk of exposure in the community. Through a recent EPA funding award, DAQ will also continue monitoring EtO near these facilities using a mobile laboratory.
This close cross-agency-collaboration and community outreach reflects DAQ’s commitment to public transparency and protecting the health of Utah communities.
Joint EPA/Utah Enforcement Settlements in the Uinta Basin
DAQ and EPA joined forces to conduct inspections of numerous oil and gas facilities in the Uinta Basin. The inspections found violations of environmental laws, resulting in DAQ and EPA issuing joint notices of violations against the companies. These violations were ultimately settled in 2022 for $3 million. Utah received $1.5 million of that funding, and put $1.2 million into the Environmental Mitigation Fund to disburse for projects that will improve air quality in the Uinta Basin.
The Division partnered with the Tri-County Health Department to identify and prioritize projects that will improve air quality and overall quality of life in the Basin. These projects include the construction of a trail to Vernal Elementary School that will improve safety while minimizing idling and carpool lines, installing additional EV fast charging stations in the area, and funding 10 electric school buses that will replace diesel buses in the Uinta School District.
Division of Drinking Water
The Division of Drinking Water (DDW) protects drinking water by supporting the safe design and operation of Utah’s public drinking water systems. Its goal is to provide safe drinking water at every tap in every building in Utah. The Division does this by working cooperatively with drinking water professionals and the public to ensure a safe and reliable supply of drinking water.
“Tooele County School District applied for and received a grant from the State of Utah to test the water in our schools for lead. At first I really struggled to make a go of it because I had so many other irons in the fire. Dylan however entered the picture and streamlined everything. He and his team were able to get our sampling done and results back to us in a very timely manner. Dylan and his team have been a pleasure to work with.”
— Cory Dobson
Custodial Operations Supervisor
Tooele County School District
Success Story: Responding to Drinking Water Emergencies Across the State
The Division of Drinking Water (DDW) works with municipalities to address drinking water emergencies in a timely manner, ensuring that regulations don’t slow access to safe, reliable water for Utahns.
In 2022, the Division responded to 50 drinking water emergencies, including boil orders in Pleasant Grove, a severed water line in West Jordan, and drought and fire-related shortages in Stockton. “While the situations in which we had to work with DDW were less than ideal, we were glad to develop a relationship of working together in the process of making sure our water is safe for our residents,” Pleasant Grove City Administrator Scott Darington said.
In 2022, the Millcreek Inn’s raw water line was cut during road construction. As a result, Millcreek Inn ran out of water. DDW’s Ryan Dearing connected the Inn’s owner with West Jordan City officials who were able to provide them with a trailer for hauling culinary water.
Once the required permit was secured through DDW, the water was hauled up the canyon, and the Millcreek Inn was able to reopen.
The Division is also working with the town of Stockton to develop new water sources and improve the existing water supply after a significant decrease over the past few years. Due to Utah’s drought, the springs that provide Stockton with their main source of drinking water have dropped from 16 active springs to less than six active springs.
In 2022, DDW inspected Stockton’s water treatment system and made recommendations on how to improve it. In order to improve water sources, Stockton has applied for financial help through grants and loans offered by DDW.
Through collaboration with the Utah Drinking Water Board, funding was secured to provide full-time power to Stockton’s emergency well.
Division of Environmental Response & Remediation
The Division of Environmental Response and Remediation (DERR) works within communities to prevent and respond to environmental contamination and restore land to beneficial use. They accomplish this through a wide variety of programs, including those that facilitate the cleanup of contaminated properties for development, oversee Superfund site cleanup and community outreach, and prevent and minimize releases from petroleum storage tanks.
- Managing the DEQ Spills line
- Helping communities respond to chemical emergencies through its participation in the State Emergency Response Commission (SERC)
- Developing tools such as the Interactive Map and spills database to make information readily available to the public
The First LUST Trust Site in the Nation Has Closed
After 36 years, the first Leaking Underground Storage Tank (LUST) site in the nation finally closed in November 2022.
In February 1987, reports of petroleum vapors in residences were traced to a gasoline release from a leaking underground storage tank owned by the La Sal Oil Company in Moab, Utah. Gasoline from the release also impacted the Pack Creek and Kane Creek confluence, leading to the riverbank catching on fire multiple times. The Division of Environmental Response and Remediation (DERR) requested federal assistance, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) took initial emergency response actions including gasoline cleanup, ventilation for affected buildings and air stripping systems.
To ensure the impact of the petroleum release was contained, periodic groundwater monitoring took place for over 30-years. In 2014, an additional site-wide investigation was completed to confirm cleanup effectiveness. This was followed by multiple rounds of enhanced remediation using oxygen-releasing compounds and nutrient injection helped to remove most residual impacts.
This site was the first cleanup in the nation funded by the federal LUST Trust Fund, following its creation in 1986 by the United States Congress. The LUST Trust Fund provides funding to oversee cleanups of petroleum releases by responsible parties, enforce cleanups by uncooperative parties, and pay for cleanups at sites where the owner or operator is unknown, unwilling, or unable to respond, or which require emergency actions. The funding is also used to conduct inspections and other release prevention activities, and is financed by a 0.1 cent tax on each gallon of gas sold nationwide.
In November 2022, to indicate that the site was sufficiently remediated, DERR issued a No Further Action (NFA) letter to the former La Sal Oil Company.
Jacobs Smelter Superfund Site Cleanup
Over twenty years after it was listed as a Superfund site by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), cleanup began at the Jacobs Smelter Superfund site in Stockton. The project was made possible by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) funding. The funds will provide critical cleanup and work to protect human and environmental health.
“This funding will help us better protect the health and environment of those who live and work in Stockton,” said Utah Department of Environmental Quality Executive Director Kim Shelley. “Addressing contamination at Jacobs Smelter is long overdue, and we look forward to making a lasting difference in this community by completing the cleanup process.”
Approximately 80,000 tons of lead and arsenic contaminated surface and subsurface soils will be removed from the Waterman Smelter area of the Jacobs Smelter site.
Cleanup at the Jacobs Smelter site is expected to be completed in Fall of 2023.
Division of Waste Management & Radiation Control
The Division of Waste Management and Radiation Control (WMRC) works continuously to ensure the proper management of solid and hazardous waste, guarantees the safe management of radioactive materials, provides education and outreach, and promotes recycling efforts.
They accomplish this by working closely with facilities to clean up waste-contaminated areas and establish permit and licensing conditions that ensure that waste treatment, storage, and disposal practices protect human health and the environment. Health physicists safeguard citizens from exposure to radiation through equipment inspections and oversight of the industrial and medical uses of radioactive materials.
“The University of Utah is a major user of radiation and radioactive materials, holding a number of broad and complex licenses issued by the Utah Division of Waste Management and Radiation Control (DWMRC). The use of radiation is vital to our mission of providing cutting-edge education, research, and healthcare to the citizens of Utah. Our success is bolstered by a strong, collaborative relationship with our DWMRC partners, who we view as radiation safety colleagues rather than purely regulators. We share a common goal of using radiation safely and in compliance with all regulatory requirements to the general benefit of society. Whenever we have an issue, be it an interpretation of a regulatory requirement, a self-identified violation, or a reportable event, the DWMRC is our first call and we trust that the issue will be addressed fairly, competently, and timely.”
–Frederick A. Monette
Executive Director/Radiation Safety Officer
Environmental Health and Safety
University of Utah
Success Story: 20 Year Partnership Leads to Thriving Business Park
For almost 20 years, the Division of Waste Management and Radiation Control worked with Ninigret Construction to remediate and redevelop a 405-acre property that was contaminated from chemical and petroleum refining into a thriving industrial business park.
Phased cleanups transformed the site into a major center for distribution and manufacturing, with businesses such as food & beverage production, electrical products, and construction equipment. Tenants of the remediated property employ over 1,300 people and generate approximately $314 million in annual sales. The transformation of this site is a result of the cooperation and long-term commitment for success between industry and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act Corrective Action (RCRA) program.
Division of Water Quality
The Division of Water Quality (DWQ) safeguards Utah’s surface and groundwater through programs designed to protect, maintain, and enhance the quality of Utah’s waters. To ensure that the state’s waters meet the requirements of the Clean Water Act and Utah Water Quality Act.
They accomplish this by developing water-quality standards and watershed protection plans, issuing permits, providing construction loans and grants, responding to environmental spills that impact waterways, and partnering with health departments to address water quality and health issues.
“Over the last few years the Utah Division of Water Quality has gone above and beyond as a partner to the Utah Lake Commission. Division staff have worked tirelessly to find solutions to complex water quality concerns, have run an effective harmful algal bloom monitoring program, and have funded critical projects to improve the lake. We are grateful for this partnership with the Division of Water Quality and look forward to continued collaboration in the future.”
Utah Lake Authority
Continued Partnership to Restore Chalk Creek
In 1998 Chalk Creek was added to the state’s 303(d) list (impaired and threatened waters) due to erosion and sediment loading in the Creek. Thanks to the success of many voluntary non-point source projects which reduced the sediment load to the creek, the Division of Water Quality (DWQ) was able to remove Chalk Creek from the 303(d) list in 2020. Although Chalk Creek had been removed from the 303(d) list, numerous partners remained interested in continuing to improve and protect water quality in Chalk Creek and its tributaries.
In 2022, the Summit County Conservation District hosted a successful stream restoration workshop to build partnerships, share information, and demonstrate the ability of Beaver Dam Analogs (BDAs) to capture sediment and reduce erosion. BDAs are designed to mimic natural beaver dams which help reduce downstream sedimentation and reduce potential for further erosion and incision of the streambed.
The workshop was held on an 11,000 acre ranch that had partnered with the Summit County Conservation District, DWQ, and other federal and state agencies to address erosion. In 2020, over 100 BDAs were installed on the ranch which were able to be used for the demonstration. The BDAs garnered enough attention that CBS Mornings visited the site in the Summer of 2022 to report on the effectiveness of the BDAs in combating drought and wildfires, in addition to supporting the reintroduction of beavers.
“Non-point source pollution is a growing problem in the West, and partnerships are critical to achieving our mutual goals of safe, clean water,” explains Jodi Gardberg, manager of the DWQ Watershed Protection Section. “Chalk Creek shows how much we can accomplish when we work together to improve water quality.”
In addition to the 2022 workshop, BDAs were installed on Porcupine and Snake Creek, which are both tributaries to Chalk Creek. Another 116 BDAs were installed on Fish Creek, another tributary to Chalk Creek. BDAs were first installed in Fish Creek in 2020. The continued interest of partners to protect and improve water quality in Chalk Creek demonstrates the success DWQ has had over the years to address non-point source pollution.
Millville City’s Prospective Move from Septic to Sewer
Over the past 30 years, Millville City’s Glenridge Well suffered contamination from individual septic tank systems. This was evidenced by an increase in nitrate concentrations in the well from 3.3 mg/L to 8.8 mg/L. High levels of nitrates in water can be dangerous to human health, especially infants.
This nitrate increase required the construction of a new sewerage system and connection to Hyrum City’s water reclamation plant. At the time, Millville was the second largest unsewered community in Utah. Millville’s plan to implement their new sewerage system will protect a valuable regional drinking water resource and contribute to growth in the area.
New sewer systems are challenging projects to implement due to high costs and affordability concerns from the community. Millville’s project faced these difficulties as well as the recent escalation in construction costs due to trade labor shortages, materials costs, and supply chain issues. The total project cost is $30,060,000.
To address cost concerns, the Water Quality Board partnered with the US Department of Agriculture-Rural Development (USDA-RD) to bring this project in at an affordable monthly rate for Millville residents. The Water Quality Board has committed $9,250,000 in grant funding and the USDA-RD has committed $9,349,000 in grant funding, as well as low interest loans from both agencies. These funding packages will set a monthly sewer rate of $88.97.
Mayor David Hair and Cory Twedt, city recorder, represented their community well and the citizens of Millville have shown strong support and commitment to the project. When complete, the Millville sewer project will result in lasting regional sewer service, a healthy, vibrant community, with long term protection of the critical drinking water supply on which the town depends and grows.