OCWD Quarterly PFAS Update
December 2021
The Orange County Water District (OCWD; the District) strives to supply clean, reliable drinking water to 2.5 million customers every day. OCWD and the local water suppliers in its service area are committed to operating in compliance with all state and federal guidelines and regulatory requirements.

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a group of thousands of chemicals that are used to make carpets, clothing, fabrics for furniture,
food packaging, cookware, and other materials to make them non-stick and/or resistant to water, oil, and stains. They are also used in a number of industrial processes and firefighting activities.

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 local water suppliers have taken to address PFAS in the Basin. 

For more background information, please see the materials below:

  1. invest in research towards understanding exposure, toxicities, and effective interventions,
  2. develop a comprehensive approach to restrict PFAS from entering the environment, and
  3. expand and accelerate the cleanup of PFAS contamination.
  • The Roadmap lays out numerous actions aimed at achieving these goals. These actions include the following:
  • Proposing to list PFOA and PFOS (and possibly other PFAS) as hazardous substances under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) (listing expected Spring 2022; final rule expected Summer 2023).
  • Establishing finalized national drinking water standards for PFOA and PFOS by Fall 2023, and publishing health advisories for GenX and PFBS (expected Spring 2022).
  • Categorizing PFAS on the Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) list as “Chemicals of Special Concern” and removing the de minimis eligibility from supplier notification requirements to increase PFAS reporting (expected Spring 2022).
  • Expanding PFAS testing in drinking water as part of the Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule (UCMR) 5 sampling to include all public water systems that serve 3,300 or more people. UCMR 5 sample collection is planned to take place between January 2023 and December 2025.
  • Restricting PFAS releases through Effluent Limitations Guidelines and monitoring requirements under the U.S. National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (expected 2022 and ongoing).
  • Evaluating mitigation options for air emissions, including potentially listing certain PFAS as hazardous air pollutants under the U.S. Clean Air Act (expected Fall 2022 and ongoing).
  • Researching and validating analytical methods (including non-target analyses) and treatment methods for PFAS (ongoing).

  • The EPA has asked its Science Advisory Board to review draft scientific documents regarding the health effects of certain PFAS.
  • EPA has transmitted to the Science Advisory Board four draft documents with recent scientific data and new analyses that indicate that negative health effects may occur at much lower levels of exposure to PFOA and PFOS than previously understood and that PFOA is a likely carcinogen. The draft documents present EPA’s initial analysis and findings concerning this new information.

  • The California Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) comment period for draft Public Health Goals (PHGs) for PFOA and PFOS has ended. The next step is a peer-review process conducted by OEHHA with another PHG draft to be released in 2022.   Final PHGs are expected next summer. Once finalized it will be approximately 2 to 3 years to set Maximum Contaminant Levels.


  • The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, signed by President Biden on November 15, 2021, invests $10 billion to help communities test for and clean up PFAS and other emerging contaminants in drinking water and wastewater and can be used to support projects in disadvantaged communities.
  • The law includes approx. $60 billion in USEPA programs and initiatives related to water infrastructure.
  • The USEPA has released a letter sent to Governors indicating how the funding will be allocated. California will receive approximately $600 million for water and drinking water as well as for lead line removal and replacement. Funding will go through the State Revolving Fund (SRF) program.

  • On October 5, 2021, California Governor Newsom signed into law the California Safer Food Packaging and Cookware Act of 2021 (Assembly Bill 1200), which establishes the protection and labeling of PFAS in food packaging and cookware. This law prohibits the distribution or sale of paper- or other plant-based food packaging items containing PFAS. The prohibition goes into effect on January 1, 2023.

  • OCWD continues to monitor PFAS legislation and encourages water agencies and stakeholders to take action by contacting your federal legislators to advocate for the following priorities:
  • The "polluter pays" principle must be upheld and OCWD is advocating to add an exemption for water and wastewater agencies to the PFAS Action Act of 2021 (H.R. 2467)
  • When setting drinking water standards for PFOA and PFOS, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) should utilize the current methodology.


  • OCWD continues testing local water supplier wells in compliance with the third PFAS monitoring order that was formally issued by the state Division of Drinking Water (DDW) in March. The orders require year-long quarterly testing.

  • OCWD and the local water suppliers continue making significant headway on new groundwater treatment facilities with the goal of getting wells back online as soon as possible.
  • Currently, 11 impacted local water suppliers are moving forward with the design or construction of facilities. Local water suppliers building facilities include the cities of
  • Anaheim
  • Fullerton
  • Garden Grove
  • Orange
  • Santa Ana
  • Tustin; and
  • Serrano Water District
  • East Orange County Water District
  • Golden State Water Company
  • Irvine Ranch Water District
  • Yorba Linda Water District
  • Construction is complete for Yorba Linda Water District and Serrano Water District whose facilities will be online in December. Additionally, Garden Grove's Well 21 is complete.
  • Construction continues for the City of Garden Grove which is building facilities for four more wells and the City of Orange which is building facilities at four well sites.
  • OCWD is in the design phase for six additional supplier facilities including East Orange County Water District, City of Fullerton, Golden State Water Company, Irvine Ranch Water District, City of Santa Ana, and City of Tustin.

  • The University of California, Irvine (UCI) led PFAS study is planning to proceed with the recruitment of a small number of adults from its existing UCI research registry in December, and then scaling up to broader recruitment including children in late winter/early spring.  1,000 adults and 300 children are expected to be recruited for the study.

  • The UCI study's website is in the final review. OCWD provided final feedback on behalf of the Community Advisory Group and Water Quality Panel.