OCWD Update
August 7, 2020
The Orange County Water District (OCWD; the District) strives to deliver clean, 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. Through an ongoing investigation, California and many other states have found that PFAS have made their way into our groundwater due to releases from a number of sources, including airports and fire training centers associated with the use of firefighting foam, and industrial facilities where PFAS is used in the manufacturing process.

PFAS have been detected in the Orange County Groundwater Basin. OCWD provides regular PFAS updates to community stakeholders to inform them of the proactive measures that the District and retail water agencies have take to address PFAS in the Basin. 

For more background information, please see the materials below:
The State Water Resources Control Board has issued a new order expanding PFAS testing in California to include wastewater treatment plants (also known as Publicly Owned Treatment Works.) Quarterly testing must begin in October of this year and last for one year, and include raw wastewater influent, treated effluent and biosolids. For more information, please see the most recent blog post from Lexology

As previously reported, the monitoring orders for PFOA and PFOS will be delayed until the third quarter, with monitoring beginning in the fourth quarter of 2020.

The Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) is also planning on issuing draft Public Health Goals (PHGs) for PFOA and PFOS later this summer or early in the fall. The draft PHGs will go through a public review process including two public comment periods, one public workshop and an external scientific peer review.

On the federal side, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is gradually moving forward in the regulatory process on its Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) requirement and expects to move forward on Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) listing of PFAS next year.
Last year, OCWD’s board of directors implemented a PFAS treatment policy that includes constructing treatment facilities for impacted water producers and bringing these treatment systems online within two years. OCWD will fund 100% of design and treatment costs and 50% of operation and maintenance costs.

Planning and design efforts for these plants have been underway and the first of the PFAS treatment plants is close to starting construction. At the August 5 OCWD Board of Directors Meeting, the Board approved authorization to publish a Notice Inviting Bids for the Fullerton Kimberly Well 1A PFAS Water Treatment Plant. This was one of four recommendations adopted by the board to advance this project. Please refer to item 12 of the board packet to read more.

In California, AB 2560 deals with establishing a transparent public process for the State Water Resources Control Board to use when establishing Notification and Response Levels. The bill has now passed the Assembly unanimously and is expected to be heard by the Senate Environmental Quality Committee in August.  

SB 1044 prohibits the manufacturing, sale and use of firefighting foam, unless an exemption is granted, to which PFAS chemicals have been intentionally added by January 1, 2022. SB 1044 is now in the Appropriations Committee.