| AWWA and AMWA Petition Frequently Asked Questions
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AWWA and AMWA Petition Frequently Asked Questions

Why did AWWA and AMWA file a petition for judicial review of the new PFAS Regulation?
AWWA and AMWA share EPA’s goal of protecting people from potentially harmful levels of PFAS in drinking water. The associations have publicly supported EPA’s decision to undertake the development of national PFAS standards. However, we are concerned that the agency did not follow the required Safe Drinking Water Act process and use the best science and data in finalizing the rule. Both organizations submitted extensive comments to EPA expressing concerns after EPA announced its proposed rule. It is evident that critical elements of these comments were not incorporated. Filing a judicial petition will allow the court to judge whether EPA acted appropriately.

What outcome are the water associations seeking with this action?
AMWA and AWWA are asking the court to verify that EPA constructed the PFAS regulation according to the letter and spirit of the Safe Drinking Water Act, and to give EPA an opportunity to revisit any components of the rule that fell short.

How does this petition strengthen public health protections?
AWWA and AMWA are seeking to advance the protection of public health. The Safe Drinking Water Act provides widely accepted framework to evaluate risks and create regulations that are both protective and affordable. Because EPA did not fully follow this framework, we are concerned that the rule does not achieve the public health outcomes we all seek.

Why do AWWA and AMWA care about the cost of the rule? 
Protecting the health of every household is AWWA and AMWA’s first concern. We want every available dollar to be directed toward the most pressing public health risks. The cost of this regulation is important because the dollars each community spends on addressing PFAS are not available to address other issues, e.g., replacing lead service lines, investing in cybersecurity, ongoing infrastructure replacement, and routine maintenance. AWWA’s 2012 Buried No Longer report demonstrated that water systems and their consumers would need to invest more than $1 trillion over 25 years to repair and expand drinking water infrastructure. We owe it to our communities – and to those households that struggle to pay for essential needs – to get it right.

Why does the petition say that EPA finalized this rule without following “the process” mandated by Congress?
AWWA and AMWA are concerned that EPA did not use the best available science and data in creating the PFAS drinking water standards. For example, EPA is collecting new data on the national occurrence of PFAS in drinking water through a congressionally prescribed process called the Fifth Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule. EPA finalized the PFAS regulation without the benefit of this more robust and updated information. The associations also question the use of a novel “Hazard Index” as a Maximum Contaminant Level for mixtures of certain PFAS, and the issuing of a preliminary determination to regulate certain PFAS simultaneously with the proposed rule.

Why is updated occurrence data on PFAS critical?
To estimate the likely benefits and costs of a drinking water rule, EPA must predict what levels of a contaminant are likely to be present in drinking water.  Without a strong understanding of contaminant occurrence, EPA cannot develop an accurate estimate of the number of systems that need to install treatment, what types of treatment are likely to be used, and importantly, both the number of people who would benefit from improved water quality and the extent of that benefit. 

How do we keep PFAS out of water in the first place?
Water systems and the communities they serve did not create the PFAS that they are now being tasked with addressing.  AWWA and AMWA continue to advocate for stronger regulation of PFAS under the “polluter pays principle.” Instead of requiring communities and water users to bear the costs of PFAS treatment, EPA should instead use its other statutory authorities to require manufacturers and users of PFAS to carry this burden. To date, the agency’s actions to control polluters have consistently lagged behind its actions to regulate drinking water.