NAWC: EPA Final Regs to Address PFAS in Water is Good First Step

April 10, 2024
After the EPA today issued final regulations on restricting harmful “forever chemicals” in the nation’s drinking water, NAWC President and CEO Robert F. Powelson issued the following statement.

PHILADELPHIA – After the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today issued final regulations on restricting harmful “forever chemicals” in the nation’s drinking water, the National Association of Water Companies (NAWC) President and CEO Robert F. Powelson issued the following statement: 

In the absence of federal regulations, private, regulated water and wastewater companies who are members of NAWC have been working to control PFAS in their systems as part of their ongoing commitment to their communities to provide safe, reliable service. By establishing a national standard for addressing PFAS in the nation’s water supply, the EPA provides clarity to all states, utilities and their consumers, leveling the playing field.  

NAWC thanks the EPA for recognizing the need for additional flexibility in timing to comply with the final rule but is concerned that estimates on customer costs and the number of water systems impacted are understated.  

What is clear is that meeting these new federal regulations will cost billions of dollars. It’s a cost that will disproportionately fall on water and wastewater customers in small communities and low-income families. The next step must now be to develop a system where the polluters are held responsible for the cleanup, not our consumers. 

Water utilities do not create or produce PFAS chemicals – nor are they used in the water or wastewater treatment process. Yet water systems and their customers are on the front lines of paying for the cleanup of this contamination – and are doing so within the boundaries of all existing regulations. 

NAWC continues to call on Congress and the EPA to protect water and wastewater consumers from funding the cleanup efforts by enacting laws and regulations to ensure that those who manufactured and used PFAS chemicals are responsible for funding cleanup and treatment.

At the same time, a separate proposal by EPA to designate certain PFAS as hazardous substances under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) will add even more of a burden to water and wastewater customers. NAWC is calling on EPA and Congress to provide a CERCLA waiver for these forever chemicals for water and wastewater utilities.

Without a waiver, water and wastewater treatment plants removing those PFAS compounds from drinking water and the environment could be held liable under CERCLA when post-treatment filters are disposed. It’s important that Congress takes action to protect water and wastewater systems that are safeguarding the public by following all applicable rules and regulations for the handling and disposal of PFAS.