Clean Water Current

NACWA Comments Highlight Serious Concerns with EPA’s Proposed Drinking Water Standards for PFAS

Jun 1, 2023

In comments submitted to EPA on May 30, NACWA raised several concerns with the Agency’s proposed PFAS National Primary Drinking Water Regulation (NPDWR) rulemaking.  

While the NPDWR is primarily an issue that impacts public water systems (PWSs) under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), the proposed NPDWR will also impact wastewater and water recycling utilities primarily regulated under the Clean Water Act, particularly those that discharge to surface waters designated as drinking water supplies or to surface waters that overlie groundwater used or designated as drinking water supplies. Also, clean water utilities that are engaged in innovative water recycling and reuse projects that sometimes require compliance with SDWA’s Maximum Contaminant Levels may also have to comply with this proposed rulemaking. 

EPA is proposing to regulate perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) as per the regulatory determination from March 2021, and EPA’s more recent preliminary regulatory determination to target perfluorohexane sulfonic acid (PFHxS), hexafluoropropylene oxide dimer acid and its ammonium salt (HFPO-DA, or GenX chemicals), perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA), and perfluorobutane sulfonic acid (PFBS) and mixtures of these PFAS chemicals as drinking water contaminants under SDWA. 

NACWA has significant concerns with EPA’s severe underestimation of cost impacts to PWSs and the Agency’s shortsightedness in not fully considering laboratory capacity when all 66,000 PWSs have to comply, if the rule is finalized, simultaneously. Further, the rulemaking will have a crippling impact across the sector on the availability of treatment equipment and carbon supplies, which are already facing supply chain shortages. NACWA also commented on the fact that this rulemaking will increase energy consumption at PWSs and clean water utilities and will have impacts on greenhouse gas emissions.  

To the extent EPA is looking for water utilities to be the solution to the rampant, widespread presence of PFAS by removing PFAS from our water supplies, the Agency must also significantly amply its efforts to eliminate PFAS production and use in the United States and prevent commercial importation of products containing these substances into the country. It is not possible to adequately address these chemicals without eliminating the continued production, importation and use of these chemicals in commerce on a daily basis. Otherwise, public water systems and public clean water utilities will continuously, in perpetuity, be fighting a costly treatment battle with forever chemicals still being used in commerce – a problem they never created in the first place.  

Read NACWA’s comments here. If members have questions, please contact Emily Remmel, NACWA’s Director of Regulatory Affairs.  

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