CASA Joins Water Coalition Letter on PFAS, USEPA Announces Three Actions
Last week, a coalition of water sector stakeholders, including CASA, sent a letter to the House Committees on Transportation and Infrastructure and Energy and Commerce and the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works’ leadership urging Congress provide the water and wastewater sectors explicit CERCLA liability exemption if PFAS chemicals are designated as hazardous substances under the law. On the heels of the letter’s transmittal to Congress, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) announced three actions that the Office of Water is taking to address PFAS contamination. The actions include publishing improved methods to detect PFAS in water, instructions NPDES permitting and effluent limitation guidelines to reduce PFAS discharges into waterways and proposing the first Clean Water Act aquatic life criteria for PFOA and PFOS.
The actions are included in the PFAS Strategic Roadmap and follows the expected timelines provided in the Roadmap. The Roadmap is the guiding document for how the Agency will regulatorily address PFAS contamination over the next two years.
Below is a summary of the three actions as outlined in USEPA’s press release:
- Improved Testing Methods: Entitled, the Screening Method for the Determination of Adsorbable Organic Fluorine (AOF) in Aqueous Matrices by Combustion Ion Chromatography (CIC), the improved method provides an aggregate measurement of chemical substances that contain carbon-fluorine bonds and will be useful for understanding the presence and forms of PFAS in wastewater when used in conjunction with methods that target individual PFAS. USEPA’s Draft Method 1621 has successfully completed single laboratory validation. Multi-laboratory validation will take place this summer and the Agency intends to publish an updated version of the method later this year.
- NPDES Permitting Requirements: In a memo entitled, Addressing PFAS Discharges in EPA-Issued NPDES Permits and Expectations Where EPA is the Pretreatment Control Authority, the Agency provides instructions for monitoring provisions, analytical methods, the use of pollution prevention, and best management practices to address discharges of PFAS. The purpose of which is to help reduce PFAS pollution in surface water as the agency aggressively embarks to promulgate effluent guidelines, multi-validated analytical methods, and water quality criteria recommendations that address PFAS compounds. The Agency also plans to issue new guidance to state permitting authorities to address PFAS in NPDES permits in a future action.
- Criteria for Aquatic Life: The new criteria is intended to protect aquatic life in from the short-term and long-term toxic effects of PFOA and PFOS. Following the comment period, USEPA intends to issue final PFOA and PFOS recommended criteria. States and Tribes may consider adopting the final criteria into their water quality standards or can adopt other scientifically defensible criteria that are based on local or site-specific conditions.
USEPA Holds Buy America Webinar for Water Sector Stakeholders
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (USEPA) Office of Water hosted a webinar last week entitled, “Build America Buy America: Water Sector and Water Infrastructure Organizations, Associations, and Professional Trade Groups”. The webinar was the second in a series the Agency is holding as it develops its programmatic implementation procedures for the Build America, Buy America (BABA) mandates, following the Office of Management and Budget’s implementation guidance to federal agencies earlier this month. The Agency has until May 14, 2022 to issue its guidance.
During the webinar, Office of Water (OW) staff provided an overview of the BABA requirements and what steps the Office will be taking in the upcoming weeks to develop programmatic procedures, including waiver processes that abide by the statutory requirements of BABA and OMB’s guidance. While there is the May 14th deadline to publish implementation procedures, OW staff stated their goal of developing strong and detailed procedures and, as a result, stated it is unlikely the Agency will publish the document by May 14. Additionally, they said that the OW will be developing procedures for waiver processes, but that it will take anywhere from six to eight weeks to finalize BABA waiver processes because of the bureaucratic approval process between USEPA and OMB. OW staff emphasized that as they develop BABA implementation procedures, they are requesting input from the water and manufacturer sectors and have created a dedicated Office of Water BABA webpage on USEPA’s website to house information and submit questions.
Senate Committee Reports Out WRDA 2022
The Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works reported out the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) 2022 this week by unanimous consent. This year’s WRDA is a narrowly focused U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) bill.
During the markup, Chairman Tom Carper (D-DE) praised the bipartisan approach to developing the legislation and highlighted the assistance provided to the Army Corps of Engineers to mitigate the impacts of climate change. Ranking Member Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) emphasized the bill’s importance to advance projects that impact local communities, states, and the nation and ensure effective delivery of Corps projects. Capito noted that the bill includes a new research program to help guide Corps decisions and project implementation. The bill now goes to the Senate floor for a debate. The House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure are currently developing their WRDA 2022 bill.