Pappas Leads Bipartisan Call for PFAS Action in Water Infrastructure Bill
Today, Congressman Chris Pappas (NH-01) led 39 lawmakers in a bipartisan letter urging House and Senate leaders to address the devastating impacts of industrial PFAS discharge in the final Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2020.
Specifically, the letter requests that the WRDA include the language of the Clean Water Standards for PFAS Act, which Pappas authored earlier this year. His bill would require EPA to review PFAS discharges under the Clean Water Act and issue regulations to address harmful discharges of PFAS into our nation’s waterways. The legislation also requires EPA to hold polluters accountable by ensuring that they are not transmitting PFAS directly into publicly-owned treatment works.
“It is time for Congress to act to address these discharges, and the Water Resources Development Act of 2020 is the appropriate vehicle to address these water infrastructure issues, wrote the lawmakers. “These provisions will hold those who discharge PFAS responsible for those discharges and ensure that communities are not left to clean up pollution they did not cause.”
The letter also notes that an independent analysis found that over 2,500 industrial facilities are likely discharging PFAS directly into waterways or indirectly discharging PFAS through their wastewater, which is currently the largest source of PFAS contamination in drinking water.
Dear Chairman DeFazio, Ranking Member Graves, Chairman and Ranking Member Carper,
As the House and Senate work to come to an agreement on a final Water Resources Development Act for 2020 we urge you to consider including bipartisan provisions passed earlier this year by the House that would restrict industrial releases of toxic PFAS chemicals.
As you know the Senate has marked up S. 3591, the America's Water Infrastructure Act of 2020, which includes Clean Water Act provisions. There was a bipartisan effort during consideration of H.R. 7575, the Water Resources Development Act of 2020, to include Clean Water Act provisions related to PFAS, but the base bill lacked any other Clean Water Act provisions, so the amendment was withdrawn. As you look at addressing water infrastructure and matters under the Clean Water Act in negotiations between the House and Senate, we urge you to include the Clean Water Act provisions of H.R. 535 to restrict industrial releases of PFAS.
According to independent analysis, over 2,500 industrial facilities are likely discharging PFAS directly into waterways or indirectly discharging PFAS to a Publicly Owned Treatment Works (POTW) or wastewater treatment facility through their wastewater. In many communities, industrial discharges of PFAS are the most significant source of PFAS pollution entering drinking water supplies. Because there is no requirement that manufacturers or industrial users of PFAS pretreat their waste before they send PFAS to a POTW, PFAS is also contaminating municipal biosolids applied to farm fields.
In January, the House passed the bipartisan PFAS Action Act (H.R. 535), which would, among other things, establish deadlines for EPA to determine how to regulate industrial discharges of PFAS under the Clean Water Act (CWA).
Specifically, the CWA provisions in H.R. 535 would:
- Require EPA to establish effluent limitation and pretreatment standards for PFAS for priority industry categories like chemical companies and textile mills within four years;
- Ensure priority industries receive a CWA permit before discharging PFAS;
- Ensure priority industries pretreat their PFAS waste before sending PFAS to a POTW;
- Prohibit indirect discharges of industrial PFAS into POTWs without advance notice;
- Require EPA to review sources of PFAS and use that information to set water quality limits within two years;
- Provide grants to POTWs to implement pretreatment standards for PFAS.
It is time for Congress to act to address these discharges, and the Water Resources Development Act of 2020 is the appropriate vehicle to address these water infrastructure issues. These provisions will hold those who discharge PFAS responsible for those discharges and ensure that communities are not left to clean up the pollution they did not cause.
Thank you for your consideration of this request.