The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) recently released a memorandum to States that provides direction on how to use the nation’s clean water permitting program to protect against per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). The guidance outlines how States can monitor for PFAS discharges and take steps to reduce them where they are detected, which is part of a holistic approach to addressing the harmful forever chemicals under USEPA’s PFAS Strategic Roadmap.
The memorandum, Addressing PFAS Discharges in National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Permits and Through the Pretreatment Program and Monitoring Programs, aligns wastewater and stormwater NPDES permits and pretreatment program implementation activities with the goals in USEPA’s PFAS Strategic Roadmap. The memo recommends that States use the most current sampling and analysis methods in their NPDES programs to identify known or suspected sources of PFAS and to take actions using their pretreatment and permitting authorities, such as imposing technology-based limits on sources of PFAS discharges.
The memo builds upon the USEPA’s April 2022 memo by expanding the audience to States and including new recommendations related to biosolids, permit limits, and coordination across relevant State agencies. The memo provides recommendations to NPDES permit writers and pretreatment coordinators, rooted in the successful use of these tools in several States, on monitoring provisions and analytical methods and the use of pollution prevention and best management practices. These provisions will help reduce PFAS pollution in surface waters as the USEPA also works to promulgate effluent guidelines, finalize multi-laboratory validated analytical methods, and publish water quality criteria that address PFAS compounds.