NIBW Superfund - About the Site

What is a Superfund Site?

The federal Superfund law was created to provide funding and regulatory authority for the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) study and cleanup of contaminated sites throughout the country. According to the EPA, there are 7 federal Superfund sites, including Scottsdale’s North Indian Bend Wash (NIBW) site, in the Phoenix metro area.

Who pays to clean up a Superfund site?

In short, Superfund policy is to "let the polluter pay." In the case of the North Indian Bend Wash (NIBW) Superfund site, this refers to the three companies deemed potentially responsible for the contamination

- Motorola, Inc., GlaxoSmithKline (formerly SmithKline Beecham) and SMI Holding LLC (formerly Siemens).


Where is the NIBW Superfund Site?

The site is designated by the EPA as the area over the plume of contamination, as indicated in the map provided by the EPA.

What is the history of the NIBW Superfund Site?
Groundwater contamination at NIBW was discovered in 1981 when industrial chemicals, primarily trichloroethylene (TCE), were found in several Scottsdale-area drinking water wells. As a result, local water providers stopped using those wells for drinking water purposes. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) identified the potentially responsible parties causing the contamination and determined that a long-term cleanup effort would be required.

What are the key entities involved in the NIBW Superfund Site?

  • The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency which identifies and monitors the contamination plume; allocates responsibility to those potentially causing the contamination; establishes a cleanup remedy; and directs the cleanup of the site.
  • The State of Arizona – Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ), which oversees groundwater quality, and Arizona Department of Water Resources (ADWR), which is responsible for managing water rights.
  • The participating companies - Motorola, Inc., GlaxoSmithKline and SMI Holding LLC - which have been designated by the EPA as potentially causing the contamination. These companies are responsible for costs associated with the cleanup.
  • The City of Scottsdale, the drinking water provider, which operates the NIBW Groundwater Treatment Facility and ensures the water produced by the plant, meets or surpasses all federal and state standards for safe and healthful drinking water.

How long will the Superfund clean-up activities take?

It has been estimated that the clean-up will take 30-50 years. However, a large portion of the groundwater plume clean-up should be completed before that time.


What is the current status of the Superfund clean-up activities?

In December 2006, the EPA declared that construction was complete on all treatment facilities needed to prevent unsafe levels of contaminants from entering the drinking water supply [Superfund Facility Construction Completion Information (pdf / 1.5MB / 7pgs)]. Four treatment facilities have been constructed in the Scottsdale area, as well as two in Tempe. In 2005, these facilities treated 5.8 billion gallons of water, or 16 million gallons a day. Although construction of these facilities is complete, it is still anticipated to take 30-50 years, or sooner, to finish the clean up.