September 5, 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?
The Orange County Water District (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. 

Updated materials following DDW’s recent announcement are now available online, please visit the resources on our  web page

Metropolitan Water District of Southern California also has informational materials available. 

Regulatory Happenings
In late August DDW released new notification levels for PFOA and PFOS, accompanied by a report from OEHHA outlining the underlying data. OCWD and Intertox are currently reviewing the information available. DDW has indicated that it would request that OEHHA begin the formal process of establishing a public health goal for PFOA and PFOS, and we anticipate that will happen in the near future. OCWD is also continuing to work with its retail agencies to determine the potential impacts of lower notification levels for PFOA and PFOS in Orange County.

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
The second round of well testing for agencies who received monitoring orders from the state will conclude this week. Other agencies in the service area who wish to have testing done are encouraged to contact OCWD. 

Regional sampling led by SAWPA took place last week in the upper watershed. As part of this effort, OCWD sampled approximately seven surface water sites and wastewater dischargers also performed sampling. Results are expected to be available in October in conjunction with a potential briefing to review all sampling and testing data. 

OCWD’s pilot program continues to move forward and has expanded in scope. The original proposal presumed four carbon and two ion exchange designs, but in order to test additional products, OCWD has approximately doubled the size of the pilot. The piloting is anticipated to start mid-October and will last for approximately six to nine months. If necessary, a second phase of the pilot project is also within the project scope.   

Separately, in an effort to gather additional information, OCWD responded to a request for water from the Colorado School of Mines (Mines), currently leading a grant-funded-EPA-PFAS study. OCWD shipped water from the designated well to be used for the pilot project. Mines will use the water sample to examine a novel adsorbent. The ultimate goal of the Mines’ study is to develop actionable data that can be used by state and local agencies to reduce exposure to PFAS in communities across the nation. 

OCWD continues to work with other stakeholders in the region to share information and updates on PFAS issues. Jason Dadakis will be presenting on PFAS updates at the upcoming Water Advisory Committee of Orange County meeting this Friday, September 6 in the OCWD/MWDOC boardroom. General Manager Mike Markus joined Director Zahra at his “Let’s Talk Water Forum” at the end of August to discuss critical water issues, including PFAS.
PFOA and PFOS are not exclusive to Orange County or even California. States across the country are in the midst of tackling PFAS in consumer products, groundwater supplies and other forms of contact. OCWD continues to monitor what is happening around the country on this issue. 

The OC Register article was also tailored and published in Southern California News Group’s other newspapers.