Clean Water Current

NACWA Partners with Utility Member on Op-Ed Opposing Flawed State PFAS Legislation

Mar 30, 2022

NACWA recently teamed up with a member utility, the Sanford Sewerage District in Maine, to co-author an opinion editorial highlighting significant flaws with a state legislative effort on PFAS in Maine. The op-ed, Putting PFAS in Landfills is not the Right Solution, was published online March 30 in the Bangor Daily News. 

The Maine Legislature is moving quickly on PFAS, spurred in part by fears from some citizens and local farmers. Concerns over PFAS contamination has been prevalent throughout local media – although not always based on actual facts - and the state legislature has responded.  

Earlier this year, LD1911: An Act to Prohibit the Contamination of Clean Soils with So-Called Forever Chemicals, was introduced in the Maine legislature and initially proposed utilities test their biosolids for PFAS. If biosolids were under Maine’s stringent screening levels (2.5 ppb and 5.2 ppb for PFOA and PFOS, respectively), the state Department of Environmental Protection could move forward with licensing and biosolids could be land applied. 

However, this legislation changed dramatically in recent weeks and in its current form is a complete ban on land application of biosolids, the sale and distribution of compost containing sludge and septage, and the sale, distribution and use of crops grown at septage application sites regardless of concentration of PFAS.  

Maine does not have any sewage sludge incineration, so this legislation essentially limits utilities one disposal option: a direct-to-landfill requirement that will be burdensome logistically, less environmentally friendly and exponentially more costly. In addition, there is no understanding by state leaders of current or future landfill capacity for landfills to receive the sheer volume of biosolids.  

The bill also does not acknowledge the ramifications of a potential hazardous substance designation under the Comprehensive Environmental Response and Compensation Liability Act (CERCLA), or Superfund law. But, most importantly, it will not solve Maine’s PFAS problem.  

NACWA has been working closely with its Maine members in recent weeks to push back against this flawed and misguided legislation, and the recent op-ed is an important step in that effort. NACWA thanks its Maine members for their advocacy on this issue, and especially extends its appreciation to the Sanford Sewerage District, Superintendent André Brousseau and the Sanford Sewerage District’s Board of Trustees for their willingness to co-author this op-ed opposing LD1911.  

NACWA is committed to continued advocacy on PFAS issues at the state level across the country and welcomes the opportunity to work with members in other states that may be considering problematic PFAS legislation. Any members with questions can contact Emily Remmel, NACWA’s Director of Regulatory Affairs.  

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