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PFAS Progress in Canada and Michigan

January 8, 2019      Drinking Water Headlines     

PFOA chem chainLast December Health Canada released technical documents on PFOA and PFOS that assessed health risks, incorporated multiple studies, and considered availability of treatment technology to establish maximum allowable concentrations (MACs) of both contaminants.

PFOA: 0.0002 mg/L (0.2 micrograms/L) (200 ppt)

PFOS: 0.0006 mg/L (0.6 micrograms/L) (600 ppt)

Both documents mention that international actions on PFOA and PFOS were considered in the development of the MACs, including the 70 ppt health advisory in the U.S. and health based values from Australia, which can be found here. Health Canada reports that there is insufficient science in developing guidelines past PFOA and PFOS.

Separately, also last December the Michigan Science Advisory Panel released Scientific Evidence and Recommendations for Managing PFAS Contamination in Michigan. The recommendations provided in this report cover the general human health risks related to PFAS and provide recommendations Michigan can use to move forward in protecting public health.


NH Proposes Lower Arsenic Drinking Water Standard

January 8, 2019      Drinking Water Headlines     

Last Friday (1/4), the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (NHDES) submitted a report to its legislature that recommended lowering the arsenic drinking water standard in NH from 10 ppb (the current EPA standard) to 5 ppb. This report was driven by legislation in 2018 that required NHDES to review the arsenic standard and to submit the report by January 1, 2019. New Hampshire now joins New Jersey as the second state with an arsenic standard of 5 ppb.

EPA revised its arsenic standard in January 2001, lowering the standard from 50 ppb to 10 ppb. Given the turnover in Administration in January 2001, EPA conducted a detailed review in 2001, including three expert panel reviews, and the lower standard held up to the scrutiny of that review. The revised arsenic rule is one of the two times (uranium being the other time) EPA has used Section 1412(b)(6) of the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) that allows the Agency to set the standard at a level where the benefits justify the costs, and not set the standard based solely on feasibility. EPA’s 258-page Economic Analysis for the Arsenic Rule from 2000 provides the details of the benefit-cost analysis used in making that decision.

The NH report is an interesting read for those are that are interested in how drinking water policy works in NH as compared to national water policy decisions at EPA – it’s a solid analysis. The page below summarizes the impacts from the lower standard – essentially that the absorptive media needs to be replaced more frequently. Bed life is reduced from 40,000 to 20,000-bed volumes with the lower standard of 5 ppb, and the annual maintenance cost is 97.5% of the total cost due to more frequent media replacement.

NH arsenic treatment costs

Senate Confirms Head of CEQ and Another EPA Assistant Administrator

January 7, 2019      Drinking Water Headlines     

During the last few hours of the 115th Congress on January 2nd, the Senate approved Mary Neumayr to lead the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ). CEQ oversees the implementation of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). In addition to NEPA implementation, CEQ also develops and recommends national policies to the President that promote the improvement of environmental quality and meet environmental goals. Neumayr has been serving as Chief of Staff at CEQ for nearly two years. She has previous experience working for the House Energy and Commerce Committee, the U.S. Department of Energy, and the U.S. Department of Justice.

The Senate also confirmed former Executive Director of the Environmental Council of States (ECOS) Alexandra (Alex) Dapolito Dunn as Assistant Administrator of EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention (OCSPP). She will leave her position as Regional Administrator for EPA Region 1 to head the chemicals office.

Shutdown Day 14

January 4, 2019      Drinking Water Headlines     

Today (Friday, 1/4), marks Day 14 of the partial federal government shutdown. Like the stock market, predicting how long this shutdown might last is somewhere between difficult and impossible. Both sides have dug in, so the shutdown is likely to last for a bit. Thursday’s funding vote in the House is more symbolic than anything and doesn’t move both sides closer to a deal.

So far, the shutdown has had minimal effect on states’ drinking water programs, other than not being able to have conversations with EPA headquarters and the Regions. Funding for the Public Water System Supervision (PWSS) Program and the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF) has not been impacted and states received guidance on assistance agreements on December 31st from EPA. Funding from the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) Program is on hold, as WIFIA is directly implemented by EPA and no WIFIA work on applications and/or loans is being conducted during the shutdown. But states are continuing to provide regulatory oversight and technical assistance to water systems across the country.

New Hampshire Proposes New PFAS Drinking Water Standards and Initiates Rulemaking

January 3, 2019      Drinking Water Headlines     

NH DES logoOn December 31, the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (NHDES) initiated a rulemaking with their newly proposed drinking water Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCLs) and Ambient Groundwater Quality Standards (AGQS) for four per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) that are protective of health for the most sensitive populations over a lifetime (as shown in the following table).

PFAS Compound Proposed Level (ppt)
Sum of PFOA and PFOS 70
PFHxS 85

These MCLs are drinking water quality standards for non-transient public water systems and the AGQS are used to require remedial action and the provision of alternative drinking water at a contaminated site. The AGQS also dictates the conditions under which treated and untreated wastewater may be discharged to groundwater. Current law requires AGQSs be the same value as any MCL established by NHDES and that they be as stringent as health advisories set by EPA.

To develop these MCLs, NHDES had to address the extent to which the contaminant is found in New Hampshire, the ability to detect the contaminant in public water systems, the ability to remove the contaminant from drinking water, and the costs and benefits to affected parties that will result from establishing the standard, and then develop a MCL for each compound that is protective of the most sensitive population at all life stages.

The state will hold public hearings and accept public comments on the proposed PFAS MCLs through early March and expects to finalize the proposals by summer. The effective date of the new rules has yet to be determined. For more information, read the NHDES press release and associated Patch article.

Contamination Response Webinar

January 3, 2019      Security     


EPA is hosting a webinar on contamination response procedures, which is scheduled for next Tuesday depending on the government shutdown. This webinar will discuss the development of training and response exercises to distribution system contamination. For more information click here.

Exercising Procedures for Responding to Contamination Incidents

DATE:           January 8, 2019

TIME:            1:00-2:00PM (Eastern)

REGISTER:  Click here

Reminder of EPA Extension to WIIN Lead Testing Grants Deadline

January 3, 2019      Drinking Water Headlines     

Between Christmas and New Year’s, EPA extended the deadline to February 11th for submission of the letters of intent to participate in EPA’s WIIN grants for lead testing in schools and childcare facilities. More detailed information on the extension can be found below, nothing that emails to EPA will not be answered during the current partial federal government shutdown.

EPA has extended the deadline for states and territories to submit Notices of Intent to Participate (NOIP) in EPA‘s new grant program to support voluntary testing for lead in drinking water in schools and childcare facilities to February 11, 2019. Governors or designees can with their NOIP or with any questions. Below is an example email for the NOIP:

On behalf of the state/territory of ________________, I submit this email as notice of intent to participate in the Lead Testing in School and Child Care Drinking Water Grant program as part of the Water Infrastructure Improvement for the Nation Act. The (insert the state/territory department/agency here) will serve as the lead state/territory agency for this program. Please send any following up information pertaining to the grant program to the following:


Phone number:


Mailing address:

Please contact us anytime at if you have questions or need any additional information.

EPA Webinar on Treatment for Emerging Contaminants

January 2, 2019      Drinking Water Headlines     

As part of their webinar series for small systems, EPA is holding a webinar on January 29, 2019, with presentations on treatment for PFAS, cyanotoxins, and perchlorate plus treatment approaches for 1,4 Dioxane in water reuse and groundwater.  Presenters come from EPA and the state of California.  The webinar will be held from 2:00 – 3:00 EST.  To register for the webinar, go here.  For information on upcoming webinars and to access recordings of past webinars visit the Small Systems Monthly Webinar Series website.

Obviously, this presumes that EPA will be back in business on the 29th.  In reality, EPA may need to be back a few work days before that date in order to allow the webinar to happen.  Prospects for a speedy resolution of the budget impasse are mixed, with seemingly more pessimists than optimists at this point.   More to come on that issue as we go forward.

Study Estimates Dental Costs from Water Fluoridation Cessation in Juneau, Alaska

January 2, 2019      Drinking Water Headlines     

A recently published study estimated the dental costs from water fluoridation cessation in Juneau, Alaska. In 2007, Juneau voted to stop putting fluoride in their drinking water, and the new study from University of Alaska Anchorage assessed Medicaid dental claim billing records for two groups of children and adolescents aged 18 or under. The study found an increase of one dental cavity annually for children under six years of age after cessation and estimated a ballpark cost of more than $300 per child. The effect was less for age groups other than the 0-6 age group but every age group experience higher levels of cavities.

More research of this type is needed in drinking water, especially when additional treatment is installed in a community for compliance with a new regulation, or to validate the national estimate of public health benefits from national regulations. For example, have communities in the Southwest seen a decrease in cancer rates due to arsenic removal treatment? Has the national incidence of bladder cancer changed with the Stage 1 and Stage 2 Disinfection By-Products Rules (DBPRs)? Validating the estimates of public health benefits of past regulations would potentially provide support for new regulations in the future. This type of research is complicated and expensive, but it’s critical as communities make investments (many of them significant investments) to comply with regulations.


Budget Gridlock Continues

December 28, 2018      Drinking Water Headlines     

While traffic in Washington, D.C., has been light this week (minimal gridlock) due to the holidays and the Capitol Christmas Tree had a respectable crowd on a nice sunny day yesterday (12/27), the budget gridlock continues and the end game is not clear at this point. It appears that both sides are digging in for a protracted battle in the court of public opinion.

So far, the impacts of the partial government shutdown on drinking water have been minimal – a large number of EPA staff had planned on taking off between Christmas and New Year’s and leftover funding kept the Agency operating this week But that operating scenario will likely change after New Year’s. If the shutdown continues through January (or beyond), then the schedule for ongoing EPA drinking water actions like the proposed Long-Term Revisions to the Lead and Copper Rule (LT-LCR), SDWIS Prime, and perchlorate will likely be impacted. The machinations of the budget process will be interesting to observe in early 2019.

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