JUNE 2022
The Orange County Water District (OCWD; the District) supplies clean, reliable drinking water to 2.5 million customers every day. OCWD and the local water suppliers in its service area are committed to operating in compliance with all state and federal guidelines and regulatory requirements.

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a group of thousands of chemicals that are used to make carpets, clothing, fabrics for furniture, food packaging, cookware, and other materials to make them non-stick and/or resistant to water, oil, and stains. They are also used in a number of industrial processes and firefighting activities.

PFAS have been detected in the Orange County Groundwater Basin. OCWD provides regular PFAS updates to community stakeholders to inform them of the proactive measures that the District and local water suppliers have taken to address PFAS in the Basin.

  • The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has added five PFAS chemicals to a list of regional screening and removal management levels for a total of six, in an effort to help EPA determine if response or remediation activities are needed.
  • EPA is expected to announce new health advisories for GenX and PFBS.

  • The Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) is recommending that the State Water Resources Control Board establish the notification level (NL) for perfluorohexane sulfonic acid (PFHxS) to 2 parts per trillion, or the lowest level at which it can be reliably detected in drinking water using currently available and appropriate technologies. An NL is the concentration of an unregulated drinking water contaminant that does not pose a significant health risk but warrants notification when exceeded.
  • OEHHA is expected to release 2nd draft Public Health Goals (PHGs) for perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) this spring and finalize PHGs by the end of 2022. Then the state Division of Drinking Water will start its MCL process which should take approximately two years.

  • The US EPA formally submitted to the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) its plan to designate PFOA and PFOS as hazardous substances under the Superfund Law or The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA). EPA expects to issue a final rule in the summer of 2023. Any rule will be subject to public comment prior to final publication.
  • ACWA, along with national water associations, released a joint letter to Congress advocating for a PFAS liability exemption for water and wastewater agencies under CERCLA. Necessity of Protecting Water Systems from CERCLA Liability for PFAS
  • The letter emphasized that the water community passively receives PFAS and Congress should continue to support the “polluter pays” concept.
  • OCWD submitted earmark requests to the Orange County Congressional delegation for $15 million in funding for OCWD’s PFAS treatment projects. Congresswoman Young Kim has supported the request at $10 million; other members of the delegation may also formally support the funding.
  • The state 2021 budget appropriated $30 million to address PFAS contamination. OCWD is advocating for a $500 million appropriations in the 2022 budget and to build a coalition of other stakeholders who support that request.

  • OCWD continues to monitor PFAS legislation and encourages water agencies and stakeholders to take action by contacting your federal legislators to advocate for the following priorities:
  • The "polluter pays" principle must be upheld and OCWD is advocating that all PFAS-related legislation and rulemaking must exempt water and wastewater agencies from any liability for PFAS clean-up costs.
  • When setting drinking water standards for PFOA and PFOS, the USEPA should utilize the current methodology.
Please visit OCWD's PFAS Education Center for resources and information on PFAS and these important legislative issues, as well as for templates of draft resolutions and letters to legislators that may be used to advocate for these priorities. 

  • OCWD continues testing local water supplier wells in compliance with the second and third PFAS monitoring orders formally issued by the state Division of Drinking Water (DDW) in 2021. The orders require a minimum of one year-long quarterly testing, with continued testing mandated in sources with detections.
  • OCWD and its local water suppliers continue making significant headway on new PFAS treatment facilities with the goal of getting wells back online as soon as possible.
  • There are 59 impacted wells in Orange County.
  • Currently, 32 treatment facilities are in design or construction and four are operational. The four operational include:
  • Fullerton's Kimberly 1A
  • Garden Grove's Well 21
  • Serrano Water District
  • Yorba Linda Water District
  • Six facilities are expected to be operational this June
  • Garden Grove's Wells 29 & 30
  • Orange Wells 9, 19, 23 & 24
  • OCWD's Philip L. Anthony Water Quality Laboratory became the first public agency laboratory in California to achieve state certification to analyze for PFAS in drinking water by EPA Method 533. Certification was granted by the Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Program (ELAP) administered by the State Water Resources Control Board. The lab previously became the first public agency lab to receive ELAP certification for PFAS analysis via EPA Method 537. Together, these certifications enable the lab to analyze 29 PFAS targets in drinking water. OCWD Lab receives certification to detect PFAS in drinking water
  • The Orange County Sanitation District (OC San) announced that it is the first municipal wastewater laboratory in the state of California accredited to test for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in wastewater. OC San Lab Detects PFAS
  •  The University of California, Irvine (UCI) led PFAS study
  • 1,000 adults and 300 children will be recruited for the study. Enrollment in the study has begun and a small number of participants have visited the clinic. 
  • Participant recruitment has been ramping up. 1,000 postcards to solicit participation were mailed in May. Initial outreach includes residents from Garden Grove, Anaheim, and Orange, with plans to expand recruitment to Yorba Linda by early June.  
  • The study's website has been finalized and is now live.
  • As part of the study, UCI continues to work on groundwater modeling to try to recreate historical PFAS concentrations in the OC Groundwater Basin over a 25 to 30 year period. UCI is preparing to share its technical findings in the near future.
  • Prado Basin sediments sampling has concluded and UCI continues to do preliminary analyses of the data. Findings are expected to be shared soon. 
For more information about PFAS, please visit OCWD's PFAS Education Center