Washington, D.C. — This week, the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies (AMWA) wrote to the leaders of the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee in response to the committee’s request for feedback on draft legislation to address Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) contamination. Among other comments on the draft legislation, AMWA requested the addition of language to protect drinking water systems and other passive receivers from Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) liability related to PFAS cleanup costs.
While the EPW Committee’s draft bill features a number of provisions related to the research and development of new technologies to remediate PFAS, it is silent on ensuring that only true polluters are held responsible for environmental cleanup costs under CERCLA. In its comments, AMWA asserted that responsible parties, such as the producers and users of PFAS, should bear the cost of remediating environmental damage caused by these contaminants, rather than burdening parties like water systems that only possessed and disposed of PFAS after filtering it out of their source waters.
"AMWA appreciates that this draft legislation recognizes the need for strong federal intervention to address PFAS contamination," said AMWA CEO Tom Dobbins. "However, any comprehensive PFAS legislation that does not hold polluters — and not innocent water system ratepayers — accountable for the cost of environmental PFAS remediation is incomplete. AMWA urges the Environment and Public Works Committee to only move forward with this legislation once a critical CERCLA liability shield for passive receivers like drinking water systems has been incorporated."
AMWA’s comments to the committee recommend the inclusion of liability protections under CERCLA for passive receivers who have not produced or used PFAS chemicals for commercial purposes and have acted responsibly in removing PFAS from drinking water and disposing of treatment byproducts. The association had previously endorsed the “Water Systems PFAS Liability Protection Act,” legislation introduced by Sen. Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.) that would achieve this objective.
AMWA’s provided comments and recommendations on various sections of the draft legislation, including:
- Increasing lab capacity for PFAS testing;
- How PFAS are defined in statute;
- Mandated timelines for EPA to establish maximum contaminant levels for PFAS;
- The use of State Revolving Fund dollars to identify potential sources of PFAS;
- Risk management and communication strategies; and
- Incentives for the development of PFAS destruction technology.
AMWA looks forward to continuing to work with the EPW Committee and other lawmakers to ensure any comprehensive PFAS legislation considered by Congress protects drinking water ratepayers and addresses the challenges posed by PFAS contamination.
The Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies (AMWA) has been the unified and definitive voice for the nation’s largest publicly owned drinking water systems for over 40 years. AMWA’s membership services more than 160 million people with safe drinking water.