On November 30, 2020, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced two important steps to address per- and polyfluoroalkyl (PFAS.) First, the agency issued a memorandum detailing an interim National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permitting strategy for addressing PFAS in EPA-issued wastewater and stormwater permits. In this memorandum, the EPA advises permit writers to consider including PFAS monitoring at facilities where these chemicals are suspected to be present in wastewater discharges, including from municipal separate storm sewer systems and industrial stormwater permits. The agency’s interim strategy also encourages the use of best management practices where appropriate to control or abate the discharge of PFAS. Note that EPA, not the State, is the permitting authority for NPDES for three states (Massachusetts, New Hampshire and New Mexico), the District of Columbia, most U.S territories, including Puerto Rico, Native American Indian Country and certain federal facilities.
The second initiative includes the development of analytical methods to test for PFAS in wastewater testing and other environmental media, including surface water, groundwater, leachate, soil, sediment, biosolids, and fish tissue. The agency has released a list of 40 PFAS chemicals that will be subject to testing using these analytical methods (https://www.epa.gov/cwa-methods/cwa-analytical-methods-and-polyfluorinated-alkyl-substances-pfas). These new methods would be an addition to the Method 533 and Method 537.1 that are already approved and can measure 29 PFAS chemicals in drinking water. EPA anticipates that these new analytical methods will be finalized in 2021.
When these two initiatives are finalized, they will ensure federally enforceable monitoring for PFAS Consider reviewing your facility’s processes if you have an EPA-issued wastewater or stormwater permit to determine if your facility discharges PFAS into the environment. Your facility may be impacted by these initiatives when your wastewater or stormwater permit is renewed.