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.
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 2016, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) established a 70 ppt (parts per trillion) combined Lifetime Health Advisory for PFOA and PFOS. In 2021, the USEPA made a formal regulatory determination to begin the process of establishing federal enforceable drinking water standards for PFOA and PFOS. OCWD advocates the USEPA utilize its current methodology when setting drinking water standards.
In October 2021 the USEPA released its Strategic Roadmap for PFAS Action in 2021-2024.
The EPA has asked its Science Advisory Board to review draft scientific documents regarding the health effects of certain PFAS.
Ahead of establishing state enforceable drinking water standards, the State Water Resources Control Board’s (SWRCB) Division of Drinking Water (DDW) has issued advisory levels for three PFAS compounds - PFOA, PFOS, and PFBS - in drinking water supplies and continues to pursue advisory levels for six additional PFAS.
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).
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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.
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In July 2021, the state Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) publicly released its draft document for public review describing proposed Public Health Goals (PHGs) for PFOA and PFOS in drinking water. PHGs are public health-based, non-regulatory values set at concentrations not anticipated to produce adverse health effects. The next step is a peer-review process conducted by OEHHA with another PHG draft to be released in 2022. Subsequently, DDW will use the PHGs as the starting point for developing enforceable MCLs. Final PHGs are expected next summer. Once finalized it will take two to three years to set MCLs. The state is not currently pursuing a PHG or MCL for PFBS based on limited occurrence in statewide testing at health-relevant concentrations.