Special Update: State and Federal Actions on PFAS Continue to Mount
The family of chemicals known as per- and polyfluorinated alkyl substances, also known as PFAS and PFOA, continues to be a hot topic of growing concern at the state and federal level. The substances have been used in a variety of manufacturing industries around the globe, including food packaging and commercial household products. There is some evidence that exposure to PFAS can lead to adverse human health effects. CASA has kept a watchful eye on developments related to PFAS over the last year.
The U.S. Senate recently amended the U.S. National Defense Authorization (Act S. 1790) to address PFAS/PFOA. These amendments incorporate provisions of several federal bills introduced over the last few months, and would mandate that the United States Environmental Protection Agency set a national drinking water regulation for PFOA and PFAS within two years of enactment among other things. The California Legislature also saw a suite of bills introduced this year related to the chemicals, though only AB 756 (C. Garcia) is still moving through the legislative process. That bill would authorize the State Water Board to order a public water system to monitor for PFAS and PFOA in accordance with conditions set by the board.
This past spring, the EPA released its PFAS Action Plan that provides short- and long-term strategies to address concerns. On the state side, the State Water Board announced a broad, three-phase investigative plan to identify locations where PFAS are present. Phase Three of that plan will focus on wastewater treatment and pre-treatment plants, and is expected to begin this fall.
CASA has been actively tracking all of these developments as they pertain to potential impacts to wastewater agencies. In order to better understand this emerging issue, CASA also contributed to organizations for a national effort to look at PFAS issues related to biosolids, residuals management and wastewater. Finally, we continue to track Water Board efforts to examine PFAS and potentially modify notification and response levels for these chemicals.
Central Valley Salt and Nitrate Management Plan Faces Key Milestone
A long running effort to address elevated salinity and nitrates in surface water and groundwater in the Central Valley is nearing a significant milestone. In 2006, a broad-based group of agricultural, municipal and environmental stakeholders began working with the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board to develop an ambitious and comprehensive strategy for addressing nitrates and salinity in both ground and surface waters. That effort is commonly referred to as CV-SALTS and is designed to maintain a healthy environment and a good quality of life for all Californians by protecting our most essential resource: water. CASA was a founding member of CV-SALTS.
After more than 10 years of studies, discussions and plan development, the Regional Board approved amendments to the Central Valley basin plans on May 31 of last year. The amendments are now pending before the State Water Resources Control Board, which will hold an informational workshop on July 2. CASA will be among those testifying in support of the amendments. The Board is expected to take action on the CV-SALTS program later this summer.
Elevated salinity and nitrates in surface water and groundwater are increasing problems affecting the Central Valley. CV-SALTS is a collaborative basin planning effort aimed at developing and implementing a comprehensive salinity and nitrate management program. In January 2017, CV-SALTS developed and submitted a Central Valley-wide Salt and Nitrate Management Plan to the Central Valley Water Board. In March 2017, the Board adopted a resolution accepting the Salt and Nitrate Management Plan and directing Board staff to initiate Basin Plan Amendments to incorporate CV-SALTS’ recommendations. Those basin plan amendments are now awaiting State Water Board approval.
For more information about how CV-SALTS affects Public Owned Treatment Works go here.