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Following last month’s approval by the House and Senate of competing plans to address per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in drinking water, AMWA on August 8 joined three other national drinking water associations to outline what should be part of final PFAS legislation that is expected to be negotiated later this year.

The letter authored by AMWA, the American Water Works Association, the National Association of Water Companies, and the National Rural Water Association was sent to House and Senate lawmakers who are expected to participate on a conference committee that will negotiate a defense policy bill this fall. That defense bill is expected to include sections to address PFAS in drinking water and the broader environment. The associations wrote that “liability for PFAS clean-up should rest with PFAS producers,” and “an exemption for water and wastewater treatment residuals should be included” if Congress directs EPA to designate PFAS as hazardous substances under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA). The water groups also wrote that Congress should not direct EPA to circumvent the contaminant regulatory process under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) by mandating the regulation of PFAS as a class or by ordering the agency to issue health advisories for various PFAS.

In July members of the House and Senate each approved their own versions of defense policy legislation with various PFAS-related provisions attached. The House-approved measure would call for PFAS to be designated as a hazardous substance under CERCLA, without offering liability protection for water or wastewater systems that may dispose of filtration media or discharge effluent containing PFAS. House lawmakers have, however, indicated a willingness to work with AMWA on this issue.

Meanwhile, the Senate-approved defense bill would require EPA to issue drinking water regulations for two prominent PFAS within two years, while also establishing a unique regulatory process under SDWA that the agency would have to follow when considering regulations for other PFAS in the future.

Lawmakers hope to have a bicameral deal in place on PFAS legislation as part of the defense bill this fall, soon after returning from the August recess.