State Lowers Response Levels for PFOA, PFOS

  • by Heather Engel
  • Feb 12, 2020
  • Water News

The State Water Resources Control Board’s Division of Drinking Water (DDW) on Feb. 6 announced lower Drinking Water Response Levels for perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) of 10 parts per trillion (ppt) and 40 ppt, respectively.

The new levels replace the interim level of 70 ppt for the total combined concentration of the two contaminants, which belong to the group of chemicals collectively called per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). The former level is consistent with the existing U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Health Advisory.

Under AB 756 (C. Garcia), which went into effect Jan. 1, water systems with PFOA or PFOS concentrations that exceed the Response Levels are required to remove the water source from service, provide treatment or notify their customers in writing about the exceedance. AB 756 also outlines measures about communicating the test results to customers.

“The new Response Level and notification requirements will have dramatic financial and operational impacts on many of our member agencies that now face difficult decisions in determining whether to implement costly treatment or find alternative water sources in order to meet the needs of their communities,” said ACWA Executive Director Dave Eggerton.

To date, more than 600 drinking water supply wells in California have been tested for PFOA and PFOS. Systems that previously exceeded the 70 ppt interim PFOA or PFOS Response Level are working to resolve the exceedance through treatment or removal of the water source from service. Through the State Water Board’s investigation, seven additional PFAS chemicals have been detected in multiple wells in California. The State Water Board has requested OEHHA’s recommendation in developing notification levels for these chemicals.

ACWA updated its PFAS toolkit to assist member agencies in educating customers, stakeholders and the media about PFAS. The toolkit includes talking points, fact sheets and a list of additional resources, and is available to members.

The California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) is in the process of developing Public Health Goals (PHG) for PFOA and PFOS. Establishing PHGs is a preliminary step for the establishment of a Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL).

“ACWA staff will continue to work with state and federal agencies to inform them about the potential impacts on water agencies, as well as keep members up-to-date on potential regulatory and legislative changes on PFAS,” Eggerton said. “ACWA will remain fully engaged through advocacy on behalf of our members during this evolving process.”

 

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