ACWA Regulatory Summit Takes Deep Dive on PFAS

  • by Will Holbert
  • Oct 18, 2019
  • Water News

SACRAMENTO — ACWA hosted its annual Regulatory Summit on Oct. 17 with a sold-out attendance of 150 water professionals receiving a day-long, detailed review of every angle on the emerging PFAS issue from experts within the industry and from local, state and federal agencies.

PFAS stands for per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances, a group of chemicals that include perfluorooctanoate (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonate (PFOS). Called “forever chemicals” by news media, the substances leached into some water supplies through their use in firefighting foams, non-stick cookware and myriad other products before their manufacturing was phased out in the U.S. Their presence in water is now the subject of an increasing regulatory and legislative focus at the state and federal levels.

Following welcoming remarks from ACWA President Brent Hastey, the summit opened with an overview of the science behind PFAS moderated by ACWA Water Quality Committee Chair Edgar Dymally, Senior Environmental Specialist for the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. Speakers included André Algazi, Chemical and Product Evaluation Chief with the California Department of Toxic Substances Control and Melanie Marty, retired Deputy Director of the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment.

A second morning panel explored the technological capabilities – and limitations – in detecting and treating of PFAS, including the costs involved. Moderator Patrick Versluis, Water Quality Director for the Orange County Water District (OCWD), guided a discussion between Issam Najm, President of Water Quality and Treatment Solutions Inc.; Chad Seidel, President of Corona Environmental Consulting; and Rick Zimmer, Senior Account Manager for Eurofins Eaton Analytical, LLC.

Following a networking luncheon, Dymally returned as a moderator for two afternoon panels. The first provided a perspective of the PFAS issue from federal and state agencies from panelists Darrin Polhemus, Deputy Director of the State Water Resources Control Board’s Division of Drinking Water; Shahala Faranak, Assistant Deputy Director of the Division of Drinking Water; Michael Huber, Region 9 Environmental Coordinator for the U.S. Department of Defense; and Corine Li, Region 9 Drinking Water Management Section Manager with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The second afternoon panel provided the perspective on the PFAS issue from local ACWA member water agencies, including OCWD’s Versluis; Jim Colston, Director of Water Quality and Regulatory Compliance with the Irvine Ranch Water District; and Lan Wiborg, Director of Environmental Services for the Orange County Sanitation District.

Wrapping up the day, ACWA Senior Federal Relations Representative Abby Schneider, Ph.D, and ACWA Regulatory Advocate Adam Borchard delivered updates on ACWA’s work in representing members’ interests regarding PFAS in Washington D.C. and Sacramento.

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