The Arizona Corporation Commission (Commission) held a workshop on April 17 to inquire into U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed rulemaking dockets related to PFOA and PFOS chemicals and their impact on Arizona water and wastewater utilities. The Commission heard presentations from the EPA, Water Infrastructure Financing Authority (WIFA), Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ), Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS), and from various ACC-regulated water and wastewater utilities.
The discussion largely focused on the EPA’s Proposed PFAS National Primary Drinking Water Regulation, which would set Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCLs) for six PFAS, including PFOA and PFOS, in drinking water. Even though some of these manufactured PFAS have been largely phased out due to health and environmental concerns, they may still be found in the environment and in drinking water.
For those interested in more information, EPA is hosting a public comment webinar on May 4th and public comment period for this rule will end on May 30th. Comments can be provided at regulations.gov under docket EPA-HQ-OW-2022-0114.
According to EPA, the proposed rule would impact approximately 66,000 water systems nationally, with 3,400-6,300 systems anticipated to exceed one or more Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCL) of a combined 4.0 parts per trillion (ppt). The presentations discussed the costs and benefits of the rule, noting that the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law has allocated $9 billion for investment in drinking water systems specifically impacted by PFAS and other emerging contaminants.
The Commissioners expressed concern about the substantial costs and long-term liability on utilities and their customers. Treatment technologies, such as granulated activated carbon filters, come with high costs and unknown disposal costs at this time depending on the outcome of the EPA rulemaking. The Commissioners asked about existing surcharge funding mechanisms, retroactive reimbursements for upgrades, and other methods of cost recovery that could be considered. As utilities determine their individual treatment needs, they express concern that cost recovery could be higher than EPA estimates.
The Commission will carefully consider the information it received in the workshop and will discuss in a future open meeting possible responses to the proposed rules to ensure a balance between protecting public health and managing the economic impact on utilities and consumers.
All documents related to this agenda item can be found in the Corporation Commission's online docket https://edocket.azcc.gov and entering docket number W-00000A-23-0085.