Carolyn Shafer (right) of the Patagonia Area Resource Alliance speaks with Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) Water Division Director Trevor Baggiore at the Patagonia Town Council’s meeting on Nov. 6. Photo by Robert Gay

Representatives from AZ Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) spoke at Patagonia’s Town Council’s sparsely attended meeting on Nov. 6.

ADEQ Water Division Director Trevor Baggiore and Facilities Emissions Control Program Manager Balaji Vaidyanathan made presentations on the status of ADEQ’s water and air quality permitting process for South32’s Hermosa mine project, before taking questions and comments from members of the council and public.

Baggiore said work on the permit being given to South32 for discharging treated water into Alum Gulch and Harshaw Creek is in progress and will ultimately be subject to federal EPA approval. 

Vaidyanathan noted that there can be no active mining at Hermosa without the air quality permit, just preparatory work. He said the public will be able to respond to a draft of the air quality permit in early December, when a public comment period opens. After that, the permit application goes to the EPA for a 45-day comment period, possibly resulting in changes to the application. 

Vaidyanathan said his office intends to bring the draft permit to the public in Patagonia for a question-and-answer session with the community.