Per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) – also known as ‘forever chemicals’ – are a major focus of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act Funds PFAS Remediation
PFAS chemicals are known as “forever chemicals” due to the persistent qualities that make them resistant to breaking down in the natural environment. These man-made substances were originally produced for use in everyday household products due to their heat, oil, and water-resistant properties.
However, recent studies have examined the adverse health effects PFAS have on humans and living organisms in the ecosystem, and contamination has become a hot topic.
Research has shown that PFAS contamination is more widespread than previously thought, as high levels of contamination have been found in soil, groundwater, drinking water, animals, and even humans. PFAS has become a focal point of government agencies, and the EPA has made available $10 billion in funding through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act that can be utilized by municipalities to address emerging contaminants.
Funding is available for cities, counties, districts, river authorities, designated management agencies, authorized Indian tribal organizations, and private and public entities proposing non-point source or estuary management projects. Funds can be accessed via three separate EPA funds that spearhead managing clean and drinkable water, and split as follows:
$1 Billion to the PFAS Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF)
On June 15, 2022, the EPA made available $1 billion in loan funding for the CWSRF. All 50 states in the U.S. can access these low-interest loans for water infrastructure projects including wastewater treatment systems, stormwater projects, watershed projects, water reuse projects, and more. Each state is required to contribute an additional 20% to match the federal grants. As the loans are paid back, the money enters the state’s revolving loan fund for new recipients seeking funds for other water infrastructure plans.
$4 Billion to the PFAS Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF)
The DWSRF made available $4 billion in grant funding for publicly and privately owned community water systems to address PFAS contamination in drinking water. These funds can be used for water quality testing, technical assistance, contractor training, and installation of centralized treatment technologies and systems. To qualify for the available funds, a drinking water system’s project must be in accordance with national primary drinking water regulations or be in accordance with the Safe Water Drinking Act.
$5 Billion to the PFAS Small and Disadvantaged Fund
An additional $5 billion is available for underserved and disadvantaged communities that have previously been unable to develop or maintain water infrastructure projects or systems due to a lack of funding. Meant primarily to help these communities achieve compliance with the Safe Drinking Water Act, these funds can also be used to address PFAS and similar contaminants in drinking water.
Each state that plans to apply for any of these three grant funds must submit a letter of intent to the EPA. These funds can be used in tandem with the existing benefits of the CWSRF and DWSRF.
PFAS Lifetime Drinking Water Health Advisories
In addition to these grants, the EPA has also published new interim PFAS health advisories covering a variety of topics. These four new advisories have been established as a resource for governments and local agencies on contamination monitoring and treatment resolutions, as well as assistance in developing PFAS policies.
Drinking water system operators and managers can use these advisories to guide them in protecting their communities while reducing their health risk. The EPA’s health advisory levels factor in a person’s alternative potential sources of PFAS exposure, including food and the air, as well as common household items such as furniture, adhesives, food packaging, clothing, cosmetics, non-stick cooking surfaces, carpets, and more.
The EPA’s Plans for Moving Forward
The EPA is developing a PFAS National Drinking Water Regulation set for proposal in fall 2022. The four interim PFAS health advisories will serve as guiding principles for water system operators until the proposal is completed and approved. Additional water contaminant chemicals outside of PFAS, PFOAS, and PFOS will be studied and taken into consideration when creating the proposal.
Federal and local governments are taking action to address PFAS contamination across all entities. The EPA’s revitalized focus on PFAS is a sign for organizations to be proactive and leverage funds that are readily available for water system projects where possible.
Is your organization interested in accessing funds to bolster your water system projects? Cameron-Cole, an ADEC Innovation, can help you discover and prepare for potential risks and liabilities associated with PFAS and chemical contaminants. Contact us to strengthen your business operations and reduce your environmental risk.