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WateReuse Engages U.S. EPA on PFAS Regulations for Water Reuse

Date: June 04, 2023

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is currently undertaking several regulatory actions aimed at protecting people and the environment from the harmful effects of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). Late last year, EPA proposed a hazardous designation for two PFAS under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA). WateReuse submitted comments on the proposed rule and awaits a final rule later this year. Following the publication of its CERCLA rule, EPA published a proposed rule to establish drinking water standards for a set of PFAS. Last week, WateReuse engaged on both proposals, submitting comments on the proposed drinking water standards, and meeting with EPA’s Office of Site Remediation and Enforcement to discuss their planned enforcement discretion of its CERCLA hazardous designation for certain PFAS.  

In WateReuse’s comments on EPA’s proposed drinking water regulations, we note that potable reuse projects can help solve the PFAS problem by using advanced treatment technologies such as reverse osmosis and granular activated carbon. While noting the role that advanced treatment can play, our comments focus on the importance of source control and the need for EPA and other federal agencies to work with polluters to limit the introduction of PFAS into commerce. Alongside submitting our own comments, WateReuse joined 16 of our partner associations on a set of joint comments to EPA. Other signatories to the joint comment include the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies, American Water Works Association, National Association of Clean Water Agencies, and Water Environment Federation. 

In addition to submitting comments on the drinking water regulation, WateReuse and several of our water sector association partners met with EPA’s Office of Site Remediation and Enforcement last week to discuss its plan to implement an enforcement discretion policy related to PFAS CERCLA liability. The enforcement discretion policy, which EPA plans to implement once the CERCLA rule is finalized, will define what actors EPA intends to focus on for remediation actions. It will also indicate what actors EPA will not hold liable for remediation costs, including wastewater treatment facilities that manage municipal sewage, community water systems, and contractors who act on behalf of these entities. Importantly, EPA also indicated that it will include language aimed at protecting municipal systems from being sued by those found liable for PFAS pollution.  

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