NAWC, Water Coalition Against PFAS Commends Intro of Water Systems PFAS Liability Protection Act

April 18, 2024
Bipartisan legislation introduced by Reps. Curtis and Gluesenkamp Perez will advance “polluter pays” principle for PFAS

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the Water Coalition Against PFAS, a coalition of drinking water and wastewater sector organizations, applauded the introduction of bipartisan legislation that would provide a statutory shield for water systems under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) for PFAS, and help ensure that polluters, not the public, pay for PFAS cleanup.  The shield would only apply to systems that have followed all applicable laws at the time the material was handled and disposed of.

Introduced by Reps. John Curtis (R-UT) and Marie Gluesenkamp Perez (D-WA), H.R. 7944 is a companion bill to Senate legislation introduced by Sen. Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) last year. The bill provides statutory protection for water utilities in light of the upcoming designation of PFOA and PFOS – types of PFAS – as hazardous substances by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under CERCLA. The agency is currently finalizing that rule. A CERCLA designation for PFAS exposes drinking water and wastewater utilities to potential litigation from the manufacturers of PFAS. PFAS users and producers can abuse litigation to reduce their own clean-up costs and increase costs on water utilities – costs that utilities are then forced to pass along to ratepayers.

“It’s important that Congress take action to protect water and wastewater systems that are following all applicable rules and regulations for the handling and disposal of PFAS by protecting them from being sued under CERCLA by the actual polluters,” said Robert F. Powelson, president and CEO of the National Association of Water Companies.

“Under Reps. Curtis’s and Perez’s bill, polluters would not be able to pass off Superfund liability to innocent families and communities being served by water and wastewater utilities safeguarding the public and the environment. The tens of millions of Americans served by NAWC’s members appreciate and thank Reps. Curtis and Perez for their leadership.”

Last month, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee held a hearing titled, “Examining PFAS as Hazardous Substances,” where witnesses documented the potential impact to water systems and their customers of a CERCLA designation due to the pervasiveness of PFAS in the environment. The prevalence of PFAS means that drinking water and wastewater systems, which passively receive these substances into their systems, would face CERCLA liability through their efforts to actually remove PFAS from water supplies and provide clean and safe water. The Water Systems PFAS Liability Protection Act will protect water systems and their customers from this unjust outcome of EPA’s proposed rule.

The Water Coalition Against PFAS represents a broad alliance of drinking water and wastewater organizations including: the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies (AMWA); the American Water Works Association (AWWA); the National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA); the National Association of Water Companies (NAWC); the National Rural Water Association (NRWA); and the Water Environment Federation.

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