Washington, D.C. - On Tuesday, May 30, AMWA submitted comments to EPA on the agency’s proposed National Primary Drinking Water Regulation (NPDWR) of PFOA, PFOS, PFBS, HFPO-DA and its ammonium salts (known as GenX), PFNA, and PFHxS. While AMWA was extremely disappointed in EPA’s decision to decline to extend the public comment period, the association worked tirelessly throughout the short, 60-day period to provide robust, comprehensive comments that will help EPA improve the rule upon promulgation. AMWA continues to support regulation based on sound science and data, and the association welcomed the opportunity to provide feedback to EPA on its proposal.
Public water systems have a large part to play in mitigating PFAS exposure to the public. Although AMWA supports regulating PFOA and PFOS in drinking water, the association opposes placing the bulk of the financial burden of PFAS removal from drinking water on the American public rather than those producing and manufacturing these chemicals. AMWA vehemently believes in the principle of "polluter pays," where those responsible for PFAS pollution should bear the responsibility for prevention and remediation. The agency must do more to hold chemical producers and manufacturers financially accountable for their actions, consequently incentivizing them to adopt safer practices, invest in pollution prevention measures, and develop alternative substances that are less harmful to public health and the environment.
AMWA’s comment letter details the many ways that EPA's cost analysis severely underestimates the actual costs public water systems will bear because of this rulemaking, ultimately burdening ratepayers. EPA’s analysis contains many faults, including displaying costs before peak inflation and other cost increases incurred. Since then, supply chain issues and labor shortages have only worsened.
The implications are particularly concerning for economically disadvantaged and underserved communities who will pay a higher percentage of their yearly income to achieve the standards EPA proposes in this rule, further exacerbating existing disparities. These communities are also disproportionately impacted by increased PFAS contamination.
To mitigate these disparities, EPA could prioritize water systems with the highest concentrations of PFAS. By doing so, these systems would gain expedited access to essential project resources, including supplies, labor, and funding. Fewer systems impacted by the rule at one time would alleviate supply chain demands and decrease competition for labor and materials, reducing overall costs.
This strategic approach would also ensure that communities facing the highest health risks from PFAS contamination are prioritized. As EPA remains committed to addressing environmental justice, it should focus on reducing the burdens on these communities instead of further straining them financially.
“Public water systems already face a multitude of pressing priorities, including the challenges of aging infrastructure, compliance with multiple regulations, the impacts of climate change, and the current adversities stemming from inflation, labor shortages, and supply chain disruptions,” said AMWA CEO Tom Dobbins. “The proposed three-year timeline for implementing PFAS treatment technologies is insufficient for projects of this magnitude. Without the certainty of additional time, many water systems will struggle to meet the compliance deadline. AMWA is asking EPA to provide a two-year extension and further flexibility for water systems that may need more time to complete such costly and intricate projects.”
AMWA calls on EPA to consider AMWA’s recommendations and ensure that the entities responsible for PFAS pollution incur the appropriate financial responsibilities. By doing so, the agency can alleviate the undue financial burdens on ratepayers and prioritize the protection of public health. AMWA remains committed to working collaboratively with EPA and other stakeholders to find solutions that achieve the shared objective of delivering clean, safe, and affordable drinking water to the American public.
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.