Weigh In On EPA’s Water Regs

The EPA is proposing a drinking water regulation for perchlorate and a health-based Maximum Contaminant Level Goal (MCLG) in accordance with the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). Comment on it by August 26.

The EPA is proposing to set both the enforceable Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) for the perchlorate regulation and the perchlorate MCLG at 0.056 mg/L (56 μg/L), also referred to as 56 parts per billion, or ppb. The EPA is proposing requirements for water systems to conduct monitoring and reporting for perchlorate and to provide information about perchlorate to their consumers through public notification and consumer confidence reports.

This proposal includes requirements for primacy agencies that implement the public water system supervision program under the SDWA. This proposal also includes a list of treatment technologies that would enable water systems to comply with the MCL, including affordable compliance technologies for small systems serving 10,000 persons or less.

In addition to the proposed regulation, the EPA is requesting comment on three alternatives:

(1) Whether the MCL and MCLG for perchlorate should be set at 0.018 mg/L (18 μg/L) (18 ppb)
(2) whether the MCL and MCLG for perchlorate should be set at 0.090 mg/L (90 μg/L) (90 ppb), or
(3) whether instead of issuing a national primary drinking water regulation, the EPA should withdraw the Agency’s February 11, 2011, determination to regulate perchlorate in drinking water based on new information that indicates that perchlorate does not occur in public water systems with a frequency and at levels of public health concern and there may not be a meaningful opportunity for health risk reduction through a drinking water regulation.

Under this last alternative, the final action would be a withdrawal of the determination to regulate and there would be no MCLG or national primary drinking water regulation for perchlorate.

Here’s a little history on this topic: The EPA set their own non-binding health advisory at 15 ppb… in 2009. According to Circle of Blue, the proposed federal regulation now out for public comment “took years to develop and required a court order.”

The EPA declared in 2011 that perchlorate, an ingredient in rocket fuel, munitions, and fireworks, ought to be regulated. Perchlorate principally interferes with the thyroid. The EPA estimated (in 2011) that up to 16 million people could be exposed to the chemical at levels that could be a health risk.

Health groups, including the Environmental Working Group and NRDC, immediately criticized the proposed regulation as being dangerous and too lenient. It’s easy to see why they are taking that stance. Beyond the agency’s own recommendation from 8 years ago, Massachusetts requires their state levels to not exceed 2 ppb, while California’s legal level is 6 ppb. If it goes through, the federally acceptable level would be 28 times the level of Massachusetts’.

For a more detailed criticism of the EPA’s change of direction on this issue, this blog hosted by the Environmental Defense Fund is worth a read.

To review the 171-page proposed regulation, please click here.

Comments can be submitted via this form. Once submitted, comments cannot be edited or removed. To view previously filed comments, please click here. Comments must be received on or before August 26.