DEQ: Who We Are and What We Do

Who We Are

DEQ is the state regulatory agency charged with implementing and enforcing state and federal environmental rules and regulations. The agency is made up of five divisions:

  • Air Quality
  • Drinking Water
  • Environmental Response and Remediation
  • Waste Management and Radiation Control
  • Water Quality

Each division administers programs that protect different aspects of Utah’s environment.

The mission of the Utah Department of Environmental Quality’s (DEQ) is to safeguard and improve Utah’s air, land, and water. The agency works with businesses, industry, state and local government, and the public to reduce or eliminate pollution. DEQ’s vision — clean air, land, and water for a healthy and prosperous Utah — supports this mission.

What We Do

DEQ’s team of highly trained scientists and engineers use scientific information to protect public health and the environment, balance economic needs, and uphold state and federal environmental laws. To do this effectively and efficiently, the agency:

  • Monitors air quality, water quality, and drinking water and test soils for contaminants. Monitoring environmental conditions helps the agency protect the public from harmful pollutants and ensure that facilities meet pollution requirements under state and federal laws.
  • Issues permits to facilities that put pollutants into the air, water, and soil. Permits place a health-based limit on how much pollution a facility can emit into the air or discharge into the water or onto the land.
  • Inspects sources of pollution to make sure they are complying with the law, and if they are not, ensure they correct the problem.
  • Enforces state and federal environmental laws.
  • Partners with the public and private sector to find solutions to pollution problems. DEQ works closely with a variety of public- and private-sector stakeholders, including the regulated community, other state agencies, local governments, businesses, community organizations, environmental groups, and interested citizens.
  • Assists with compliance with state and federal environmental laws through education, outreach, and technical guidance.
  • Funds construction of wastewater and drinking water facilities to ensure Utah residents have safe, clean water.

Why We Do It

When Congress passes an environmental law, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) writes and enforces regulations based on these laws. The EPA also sets national standards that state agencies enforce through their own regulations. EPA often delegates the primary responsibility, or primacy, to states for enforcement of federal environmental laws. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is a separate entity that regulates radioactive materials through licensing, inspection and enforcement actions. Likewise, the NRC can delegate some of its authority to the states.

DEQ has been granted primacy by the EPA to enforce the federal Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Safe Drinking Water Act, and Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. As an Agreement State with the NRC, Utah has been granted the authority to regulate certain uses of radioactive materials.

How We Do It

Air, land, and water pollution are governed by different state and federal laws, meaning there is no “one-size-fits-all” approach for addressing the different types and sources of pollution. That’s why DEQ is organized into five divisions, each of which has its own roles and responsibilities.

Water Quality

Water-quality scientists and engineers make sure Utah meets water-quality standards. They write permits, monitor pollution levels in state waters, develop plans to improve water quality in lakes and streams, and provide financial assistance for water-quality and wastewater infrastructure projects.

Drinking Water

Drinking-water scientists and engineers work with local health departments and public water systems to ensure water-treatment facilities meet drinking-water standards. They provide training and certifications for water operators, review engineering plans, and offer financial assistance for community drinking-water-system projects.

Air Quality

Air-quality scientists and engineers make sure Utah meets federal and state air-quality standards. They write permits, visit facilities to ensure compliance with permit requirements, offer technical assistance, and coordinate planning with communities, agencies, and the public to reduce air pollution.

Environmental Response and Remediation

Environmental response and remediation scientists and engineers protect the public health and Utah’s environment by supporting the cleanup of chemically contaminated sites, ensuring the proper use of underground storage tanks, and providing information about toxic releases into the air, land, or water to the public. They help cities and businesses return contaminated lands to economic use, determine if sites pose a threat to human health and the environment, oversee cleanup activities, and oversee the installation, inspection, and removal of underground storage tanks.

Waste Management and Radiation Control

Waste-management scientists and engineers make sure solid and hazardous waste is managed and disposed of properly and safely. They write permits, visit facilities to ensure compliance with permit requirements, oversee cleanups of contaminated areas, and promote recycling. Radiation-control scientists make sure radioactive materials and radioactive waste are managed properly and safely. They issue licenses for radioactive waste and materials, visit facilities to ensure compliance with license requirements, and inspect X-rays and other equipment containing radioactive materials.

This entry was last updated in About, DEQ on March 5, 2018 at 4:38 pm