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EPA Provides Resources to Address Chemical Supply Issues

June 23, 2021

As chemical supply chain issues continue to impact utilities around the country, EPA has published instructions for water utilities on how to use Section 1441 of the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) or the Defense Production Act to obtain chlorine or any other chemicals needed for treating drinking water or wastewater.

Supplies of sodium hypochlorite and other chlorine products have been reduced due to equipment failure and other problems at production facilities. Utilities on the West Coast and some other parts of the country have received force majeure letters from their suppliers explaining the shortage and its unknown duration.

Section 1441 of the SDWA authorizes the Department of Commerce to issue an order to vendors to supply public drinking water or wastewater utilities with necessary chemicals. EPA recommends on its Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page that utilities first work with their current chemical suppliers and investigate alternative suppliers, as well as work with neighboring utilities and the Water and Wastewater Agency Response Networks (WARNs) for potential supply options. If these options are not successful, utilities may submit an application to certify need under Section 1441. 

Utilities may also use the Defense Production Act to secure supplies of needed chemicals. The Defense Priorities and Allocation System allows supply chain prioritization to support critical infrastructure, such as drinking water and wastewater utilities, in the nation’s supply chain. EPA provides instructions for using the Defense Production Act, which begins with filling out Form BIS-999 and returning it to EPA Headquarters at WSD-Outreach@epa.gov.

NACWA Engage has provided a forum for utilities to share information with each other about the chemical shortages. NACWA encourages its members to continue to use Engage as this situation develops. NACWA members may also contact Cynthia Finley, NACWA’s Director of Regulatory Affairs, with questions or information about the issue. 

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