OCWD PFAS Update
August 23, 2019
The Orange County Water District (OCWD) and all water agencies in its service area operate their water systems in compliance with all state and federal and guideline regulatory requirements. We strive to deliver safe, reliable drinking water to 2.5 million customers.
What's PFAS?
OCWD strives to deliver safe, reliable drinking water to 2.5 million customers every day. OCWD and the water agencies in its service area are committed to operating in compliance with all state and federal and guidelines and regulatory requirements.

Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) are chemicals that are prevalent in the environment and were once commonly used in many consumer products. They are part of a larger group referred to as per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). Common products that contain PFAS are carpets; clothing; paper food packaging; water, grease or stain resistant materials; and fire-fighting foam. Water is just one of many ways that people come into contact with these substances. 

In 2016, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) replaced the provisional advisories it established for PFOA and PFOS with a Lifetime Health Advisory and the California Division of Drinking Water (DDW) established state guidelines for PFAS in 2018. OCWD and local water retailers are actively engaged with federal and state regulators and elected and appointed officials on this issue. As part of its commitment to transparency, OCWD will provide regular PFAS updates to community stakeholders. 

For more information, please visit the resources on our web page


ACWA has also released a communications toolkit for members. To download it, please visit  https://www.acwa.com/resources/pfas-communications-and-education-toolkit/
Regulatory Happenings
The DDW today announced a new Notification Level for PFOA and PFOS, 5.1 parts per trillion (ppt) and 6.5 ppt, respectively. The Response Level for PFOA and PFOS will remain at the current level of 70 ppt for both contaminants. It will be updated in Fall 2019. DDW also indicated in its announcement that it is formally requesting that the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment develop a draft Public Health Goal, the first step in establishing a Maximum Contaminant Level for PFOA and PFOS – an action that OCWD supports. 

OCWD is currently assessing the impact that lower notification levels would have on water systems within its service area. As always, we will continue to assist local water retailers to ensure that their drinking water meets requirements for PFOA and PFOS established by the EPA and DDW. To meet state guidelines, OCWD and retailers are taking actions such as, removing wells from service, using more imported water, blending multiple supply sources and pilot testing treatment process for removal of PFAS. Our top priority is ensuring high-quality, safe drinking water for Orange County residents.
Local Activities
OCWD’s Philip L. Anthony Water Quality Laboratory was the first public agency laboratory in California to achieve state certification to analyze for PFAS in drinking water. The District is proactively working with federal, state and local agencies to test, identify and monitor PFAS. OCWD has begun the second round of testing for PFAS at locations within its service area that received monitoring orders from the state. Testing will occur throughout August and September. 

OCWD’s board of directors continued discussions this week about how it can best help producers identify and implement the best treatment options for each district. The board is considering hiring a consultant to review the needs and treatment options for each retailer, as well as what role OCWD will play in covering the costs associated with new treatment facilities. OCWD is also moving forward with 3D modeling of the basin to get a better visual representation that illustrates the impacts of PFAS basin wide.

OCWD has selected Jacobs as its consultant for its upcoming pilot program. Jacobs will be conducting the PFAS treatment study and will be working in conjunction with OCWD to test multiple products. Pilot testing for Granulated Activated Carbon and Ion Exchange will begin this fall. In addition, OCWD has issued a Planning Study RFP with local water retailers to help determine retailer-specific treatment implementation costs and impacts. Proposals are due September 19. 

Regional sampling led by the Santa Ana Watershed Project Authority (SAWPA) will begin next Tuesday in the upper watershed. Results will be available later this fall in conjunction with a potential briefing to review sampling and testing data.
Media
Legislation
The Honorable Harley Rouda, U.S. House Representative, CA-48
OCWD continues to monitor state and federal PFAS related bills and is actively working with lawmakers to effectively address the PFAS issue. On August 22, OCWD hosted a briefing with Congressman Harley Rouda (D-CA) and staff from Orange County’s congressional delegation to discuss what Orange County is doing and how federal representatives can help advance effective regulations and laws. Rep. Rouda discussed his bill, H.R. 2570, the PFAS User Fee Act, which would impose a fee system on industrial manufacturers of PFAS and authorize $2 billion annually to support the cleanup of PFAS contaminated water supplies. OCWD supports the bill.

To read more on what OCWD is asking of state and federal representatives, please see OCWD’s latest fact sheet .  

House (H.R. 2500) and Senate (S. 1790) National Defense Authorization Act language dealing with PFAS passed the respective chambers of the Senate and House and is now ready for conference committee negotiations, which is expected this September. However, the White House issued a formal veto threat based in part on PFAS amendments. H.R. 2500 would mandate EPA to designate chemicals as hazardous under Superfund within 1 year of enactment and would require EPA to issue effluent limits for industrial dischargers. S. 1790, amended by S. 1507, would mandate the EPA to issue a national MCL under the Safe Drinking Water Act along with monitoring mandates. OCWD took a support position on S. 1507 provisions. 

In California, Governor Newsom signed AB 756 by Assemblymember Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens) earlier this month – Public water systems: perfluoroalkyl substances and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). AB 756 is redundant to current State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) regulations/policy and OCWD along with other agencies had opposed the legislation.