OCWD Update
September 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 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 were 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 taken to address PFAS in the Basin. 

For more background information, please see the materials below:
New PFAS monitoring orders were formally issued by the state Division of Drinking Water to 15 local water suppliers in OCWD's service area for a total of 86 individual wells. The orders require quarterly testing beginning in the fourth quarter of 2020.

While the state originally planned on issuing draft Public Health Goals (PHGs) for PFOA and PFOS concurrently with the new orders, the PHGs will now be issued at a later date. When they are issued, the draft PHGs will go through a public review process including two public comment periods, one public workshop and an external scientific peer review.

The State Water Resources Control Board's Sept. 15 board meeting was scheduled to feature a statewide investigation technical data presentation on PFAS. The presentation will likely be deferred to the Oct. 6 board meeting.

Now that new monitoring orders have been issued for PFAS, OCWD is poised to swiftly begin testing with retailers. Preparations and initial scheduling plans by the District's water quality and laboratory departments are underway. The District plans on conducting most fourth quarter testing in October and November to finalize before the end of the year.

OCWD and its retail agencies are also making significant headway on new groundwater treatment facilities. Designs for seven facilities are underway for the cities of Fullerton, Garden Grove, Orange, and Santa Ana; Serrano Water District; East Orange County Water District; and Yorba Linda Water District. Initial construction bids have been issued, and operation of treatment facilities is anticipated to begin for some cities as early as April of 2021.

The OCWD pilot facility continues to run and has now provided more than eight months of data. Some ion exchange (IX), granular activated carbon (GAC) and novel sorbent media are showing promise and distinguishing themselves in terms of performance.

As we near the end of the current legislative session, three PFAS-related bills continue to move forward.

AB 2560 (Bill Quirk) Water quality: notification and response levels: procedures
Establishes a transparent public process for the State Water Resources Control Board (State Board) to use when establishing a Notification Level (NL) and Response Level (RL). The bill requires the State Board to notify the public on their website when a NL or RL is being developed or changed, and then again when a proposed NL or RL is available. AB 2560 requires the study or studies used as a base to develop the NL or RL to be made public, if they are disclosable under the Public Records Act. Additionally, the Board must disclose whether the study or studies were peer reviewed and whether only one study was relied upon. The bill requires notice and document availability at least 30 days before the informational item being placed on the State Board’s agenda. However, if the Division of Drinking Water finds that there is a potential for imminent harm to public health then the procedures may be bypassed, but an informational item of the NL and RL changes must be provided within 45 days at a regularly noticed meeting of the State Board.

SB 1044 (Allen): Firefighting equipment and foam: 
PFAS chemicals. 
SB 1044 prohibits the manufacturing, sale and use of firefighting foam that contains PFAS, unless an exemption is granted, by January 1, 2022.

AB 2762, Muratsuchi. Cosmetic products: safety. 
This bill would prohibit the manufacturing and sale of any cosmetic product that contains PFAS by 2025 (and a list of several other compounds that are also prohibited by the European Union.)