EPA Issues National Drinking Water Standards Addressing PFAS

The long-anticipated final federal rule and goals for the management of the per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (“PFAS”) family of toxins in public drinking water have been released by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) and time for compliance planning is at hand. PFAS chemicals are used in industry and consumer products, and research shows that exposure to PFAS can lead to adverse health outcomes. To address these adverse effects, the EPA issued its final National Primary Drinking Water Regulation regarding PFAS in drinking water (hereinafter the “Final Rule”), pursuant to the Safe Drinking Water Act, on April 10, 2024.  The Final Rule established legally enforceable levels, or Maximum Concentration Levels (“MCLs”), for six PFAS chemical compounds, including: perfluorooctanoic acid (“PFOA”); perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (“PFOS”); perfluorohexanesulfonic acid (“PFHxS”); perfluorononanoic acid (“PFNA”); and hexafluoropropylene oxide dimer acid (“HFPO-DA”). Further, the Final Rule states that mixtures which contain two or more of the following will have to use a Hazard Index MCL to account for the combined and co-occurring levels of these compounds in drinking water: PFHxS, PFNA, HFPO-DA, or perfluorobutane sulfonate (“PFBS”).

The Final Rule requires public water systems to meet mandatory compliance deadlines within the next five years. This includes, among other requirements: (i) within the next three years (by 2027) public water systems must monitor for these six PFAS chemicals; (ii) within five years (by 2029) public water systems must begin to implement solutions to reduce PFAS levels if monitoring shows that the levels in the water are higher than the set MCLs; and (iii) beginning in 2029, public water systems that do not meet the MCLs must act to reduce the levels of PFAS in their drinking water and provide public notification of any violation of the MCLs.

West Group Law attorneys have been national panelists addressing the emerging PFAS challenges, and work with scientists, engineers and public operators to develop cost effective strategies to meet environmental goals and protect public health. For over three decades, our attorneys have provided guidance and transactional assistance for public water and wastewater systems throughout the country to ensure ongoing compliance with both state and federal regulations addressing emerging toxins, permit compliance, and operational requirements. Attorneys at West Group Law are on the cutting edge of project delivery methods for facility improvements and have negotiated permit and compliance actions for municipalities trying to achieve environmental goals in the face of increasing rate pressure.