Arizona’s sunny skies have contributed to decades-long arrangements to train military pilots here. But that has led to a long-term problem with water pollution from multiple chemicals, which is now getting more attention.
The latest issue on the front burner has been “forever chemicals” in the ground that resulted from a type of firefighting foam used on bases, specifically at Luke Air Force Base in Glendale, the former Williams Air Force Base in Mesa and Davis-Monthan and Morris Air National Guard bases in Tucson. The chemicals travel easily underground and have been linked to cancer and birth defects.
Gov. Doug Ducey this week called for the help of the secretary of defense in seeking a federal solution to the problem. Meanwhile, the Arizona Corporation Commission is holding a public hearing Thursday for residents around Luke who have dealt with contaminated water for years.
Ducey is requesting more investigation, help in stopping the chemicals from spreading and information about their proximity to drinking water. The Air Force already has notified some residents near Luke that water is unsafe and provided drinking water to them.
Solvents used in aircraft maintenance also have presented a problem with groundwater.
Scientific advances not only have found out more about what is harmful, they also have found safer ways to do things. That is true with fighting aircraft fires and in countless other areas, but troubles persist.
Arizona’s economy has benefited greatly from the military bases here, and the huge investment made is important to the national defense. The state should continue to be a good neighbor to the bases, and the federal government should return the favor.
The offering of more protection of groundwater supplies is overdue, and the efforts of Ducey and the ACC are an important part of that. And so is a favorable response from our federal friends.
— Donovan Kramer Jr.