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Home / What we do / Water quality / PFAS / Legislation and regulations

Legislation and regulations

The science on PFAS and its impacts to the environment and public health have prompted legislative and regulatory action. OCWD, cities and retail water agencies in Orange County take seriously the duty to provide reliable high-quality drinking water to residents throughout Orange County and will continue to meet all state and federal drinking water standards and regulations.

Federal legislation

Action Needed: Any PFAS-related legislation or rulemaking should recognize the unique position of water and wastewater agencies, who are not responsible for the PFAS that can be found in the water and wastewater they manage and treat. Thus, current and future legislative and regulatory action related to PFAS should provide an explicit exemption from liability for water and wastewater agencies related to PFAS cleanups and remediation. A water utility that complies with all applicable and appropriate federal management and treatment standards for PFAS should not face liability for current and future costs associated with PFAS cleanups and remediation. Water agencies have no responsibility for the presence of PFAS in the water and wastewater they manage, and the concept of imposing liability for the presence of PFAS is unfair and bad public policy.

OCWD continues to monitor PFAS legislation at the federal level, and encourages water agencies and stakeholders to take action by contacting their federal legislators to communicate concerns regarding this important issue.

Click on the arrows below for additional legislative and regulatory information.

In June 2022, U.S. EPA (EPA) issued new final Health Advisories (HAs) for GenX and PFBS, and issued updated interim HAs for PFOA, and PFOS that replace those issued by EPA in 2016. HAs are not federal regulatory limits and are non-enforceable.

Summary of EPA HA values:

  • Interim updated HA for PFOA = 0.004 parts per trillion (ppt)
  • Interim updated HA for PFOS = 0.02 ppt
  • Final HA for GenX chemicals = 10 ppt
  • Final HA for PFBS = 2,000 ppt

* Note: 1 ppt is roughly equivalent to one drop of water in 20 Olympic-sized pools.

OCWD and its PFAS-impacted retailers comply with state advisory levels for PFOA, PFOS, PFBS, and PFHxS established by the State Water Resources Control Board’s Division of Drinking Water (DDW).

Current state advisory levels are:

  • Notification Levels (NL): PFOA, 5.1 ppt; PFOS, 6.5 ppt; PFBS, 500 ppt; PFHxS, 3 ppt
  • Response Levels (RL): PFOA, 10 ppt; PFOS, 40 ppt; PFBS, 5,000 ppt; PFHxS, 20 ppt

*Note: GenX has not been detected in the Basin; PFBS has been detected, but at levels far below all current state advisories and the new federal HA.

Notification Levels (NL)

The NL is the level at which water agencies are required to notify local elected officials and governing bodies of the presence of contaminants in local water supplies. NLs are precautionary health-based advisory levels established by DDW while further research and analysis are conducted by the state to determine the necessity of setting an enforceable drinking water maximum contaminant level (MCL).

Response Levels (RL)
The RL is the level at which the state recommends the water not be served to the public without treatment or blending to reduce contaminants.

The state has issued draft Public Health Goals (PHGs) for PFOA and PFOS. Once the PHGs are finalized, DDW will use them as the basis for developing statewide enforceable drinking water regulations, a process which should take approximately two years.

Return to PFAS education center.