OCWD Update
June 29, 2020
The Orange County Water District (OCWD; the District) strives to provide 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, particularly near airports and military bases where these chemicals are commonly used.

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 provides regular PFAS updates to community stakeholders. 

For more background information, please see the materials below:
The State Water Resources Control Board has indicated that issuance of new monitoring orders for PFOA and PFOS will be delayed until the 3 rd  quarter of this year. The state intends to roll out the new orders concurrent with both the draft Public Health Goals (PHGs) for PFOA and PFOS and a Notification Level (NL) for PFBS. It’s now anticipated that all three will be announced toward the end of the 3 rd  quarter, with required monitoring beginning in the 4 th  quarter. The state had previously planned on issuing the PFOA and PFOS monitoring orders by July 1.

When the draft PHGs for PFOA and PFOS are issued, there will be a 60-day public comment period. The establishment of a PHG by the state Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) is first required before a state Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) can be established.

On the federal side, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is gradually moving forward in the regulatory process on its MCL requirement and expects to move forward on Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) listing of PFAS next year.
This week, OCWD hosted a webinar “PFAS: Encouraging Results from OCWD Treatment Study,” to update the community and stakeholders on OCWD’s pilot program. OCWD has been running the pilot to test treatment methods for PFAS since December, as well as rapid small-scale column testing on individual water agencies’ supplies. Panelists during the webinar shared initial results and data from both the pilot and the lab scale testing and walked attendees through how the testing can help identify and design the most effective full-scale systems. 

OCWD anticipates the pilot will run for a few more months, with lab testing complete by the end of the year. 

The June 23 webinar is now available online. If you missed it, we encourage you to watch it  here . Presentation slides from the webinar are also available  here .

As retail agencies prepare to get treatment systems designed and constructed quickly, permitting submittals have already begun and vessels have been ordered. 

OCWD has also been working with board members and retail agencies to ramp up public outreach in our communities. We are working hand-in-hand to provide information and give presentations to community groups, business groups, rotary clubs, and others on water issues including PFAS.

And recently, the Santa Ana Watershed Project Authority formed a PFAS Education Task Force for agencies to collaborate on PFAS information, education and outreach.
On the federal level, the National Defense Authorization Act is going to the floor in July but does not include any PFAS provisions on CERCLA. We don’t anticipate any legislation to include CERCLA liability this year. 

The Drinking Water Infrastructure Act (S. 3590) includes some PFAS mandates, including a requirement to set an MCL for PFAS.  

In California, two bills related to PFAS that are still active are AB 2560 (Quirk) and SB 1044 (Allen). AB 2560 is co-sponsored by OCWD and the California Municipal Utilities Association and 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 in the Senate Environmental Quality Committee chaired by Senator Allen. SB 1044 prohibits the manufacturing, sale and use of firefighting foam to which PFAS chemicals have been intentionally added by January 1, 2022.
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.