On April 10, 2024, the EPA announced the final National Primary Drinking Water Regulation for six PFAS.

Understanding the EPA’s Final PFAS Regulation

On April 10, 2024, the EPA announced the final National Primary Drinking Water Regulation for six PFAS. The regulation establishes legally enforceable levels for individual PFAS MCLs and a Hazard Index MCL for PFAS mixtures. EPA evaluated over 120,000 comments submitted by the public on the rule proposal and expects that over many years, the final rule will prevent PFAS exposure in drinking water for up to 200 million people, prevent thousands of deaths, and reduce tens of thousands of PFAS-attributable severe illnesses. Additionally, $1 billion of additional funding has been made available through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to help states and territories implement PFAS testing and treatment at public water systems and to help owners of private wells address PFAS contamination.

The final rule requires:

  • Public water systems must monitor for these PFAS and have three years to complete initial monitoring (by 2027), followed by ongoing compliance monitoring. Water systems must also provide the public with information on the levels of these PFAS in their drinking water beginning in 2027.
  • Public water systems have five years (by 2029) to implement solutions that reduce these PFAS if monitoring shows that drinking water levels exceed these MCLs.
  • Beginning in five years (2029), public water systems that have PFAS in drinking water which violates one or more of these MCLs must take action to reduce levels of these PFAS in their drinking water and must provide notification to the public of the violation.

(Source: United States Environmental Protection Agency)

How many utilities does EPA estimate will be impacted?

The PFAS drinking water rule applies to over 66,000 public water systems. Most of these systems will need to monitor their PFAS levels to ensure they do not exceed the regulatory standards. Only a small percentage, between 6-10%, may need to reduce PFAS levels to comply with the new standards. The compliance timeframe for new rules is typically three years, but the EPA is extending it to five years due to the additional time required for capital improvements. However, systems must comply with other requirements, such as notifications, starting three years after the rule is finalized.

What funding is available to meet the new requirements?

Some water systems with higher levels of PFAS will need to reduce PFAS in their drinking water. Water systems can seek funding, including $9 billion from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and free Water Technical Assistance services from EPA. States and communities can leverage an additional $12 billion in funding for Drinking Water State Revolving Funds (DWSRF). EPA is taking actions to hold polluters accountable, reduce PFAS pollution, and help make our nation’s drinking water safe from PFAS.

The EPA also announced nearly $1 billion for states and territories, through the Emerging Contaminants in Small or Disadvantaged Communities (EC-SDC) Grant Program, which can be used for initial testing and treatment at both public water systems and to help owners of household wells address PFAS contamination.

Do state standards differ from EPA standards?

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has established nationwide PFAS to protect public health. States have been working to set limits and help water systems comply with regulations. Over the next two years, states will need to adopt these requirements and apply for approval to oversee the implementation of these regulations while ensuring that their rules are no less stringent than those promulgated by the EPA. EPA will provide guidance to support states, territories, and Tribes on applying for primacy.

How can McKim & Creed assist clients?

Our experts are well-versed in all federal and local requirements and can assist clients in getting the funding they need to comply. In fact, McKim & Creed is a leader for PFAS funding and design in Florida and assisted a client in obtaining the first PFAS funding award in the state.

What is the most important takeaway from the new rule?

The regulations are final and will have major cost and other impacts to the drinking water industry.