EPA kicks off M/DBP workgroup deliberations The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) kicked off the first of 13 planned sessions of a microbial/disinfection by-products workgroup under the National Drinking Water Advisory Council (NDWAC) to discuss certain distinct and deeply intertwined topics related to future changes in regulations. This first session focused heavily on implementation in financially challenged water systems, often framed as small, consecutive systems. In organizing this workgroup, the agency expects to see a roughly one-year schedule in which the first five meetings are dedicated to helping the workgroup members reach a common understanding of the subject matter. The workgroup will make recommendations to the NDWAC, which in turn will make recommendations to the EPA administrator for use in the upcoming proposed rulemaking in 2025. The drinking water sector has focused on anticipated implications of the upcoming rulemaking that could affect distribution system monitoring and water quality management. However, the workgroup will begin looking at source water and treatment. Agency releases new screening levels for five PFAS EPA released five, final per-and polyfluoroalkyl substance (PFAS) screening levels for site remediation. These screening levels are guidelines, not cleanup standards, but they do guide EPA’s decision-making for contaminated sites covered by the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), otherwise known as Superfund. The following five PFAS are covered: hexafluoropropylene oxide (HFPO) dimer acid and its ammonium salt, together known as GenX chemicals; perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA); perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS); perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA); and perfluorohexanesulfonic acid (PFHxS). This announcement comes before a proposed rule being released by EPA to designate two of these PFAS, PFOA and PFOS, as hazardous substances. A statutory quirk of CERCLA results in screening levels being prepared by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, a division within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, rather than EPA. Panel says cancer evidence inadequate for PFHxA An external panel reviewed EPA’s draft toxicological review and concluded that there is inadequate information to assess carcinogenic potential for PFHxA. The review was conducted under the agency’s Integrated Risk Information System program. The draft toxicological review was released for peer-review in February. EPA also found that the available evidence indicates PFHxA likely causes hepatic (kidney) and developmental effects in humans. An oral RfD of 0.0005 mg/kg/day was selected based on these exposures. The external panel gave the impression of supporting EPA’s approach and findings. New report further explores affordability concepts “ Demonstrating Affordability Metrics in Relation to Rulemaking ,” a new report further exploring the concepts of affordability in Safe Drinking Water Act rulemakings, has been posted to AWWA’s Affordability page . This report was authored by a team of premier consultants and overseen by a highly experienced steering committee. This Water Industry Technical Action Fund -sponsored report expands upon the principles of the 2021 expert panel report “ Improving the Evaluation of Household-Level Affordability in SDWA Rulemaking ” by identifying data sources, methods and potential challenges of operationalizing these household affordability assessment concepts. The report also uses publicly available data from several states to demonstrate the types of information such an assessment would identify. Grants available to set up finance aid centers EPA is accepting applications until June 17 for grants to establish regional or national “ environmental finance centers ” across the country. These centers are to provide technical assistance for managerial and financial capacity-building services to local, state, and tribal governments, and non-governmental organizations. The agency expects to distribute $13.6 million annually over five years in this grant program. There are three funding categories of grants for finance centers: regional water infrastructure centers, national water infrastructure centers and multi-environmental centers. The first two are being funded through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act signed into law last November and will help communities access those funds for their infrastructure needs. EPA’s Regan testifies on FY23 budget request EPA Administrator Michael Regan last week made his case for a higher level of funding asked for the agency before House and Senate subcommittees. In hearings on EPA’s Fiscal Year 2023 budget request, he also outlined the agency’s need for more full-time employees to carry out their commitments under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). Regan faced questions from Democrats and Republicans about the agency’s slow pace in reviewing chemicals under TSCA and its plans to address PFAS through its Strategic Roadmap. Regan stressed the need for more capacity and resources, without which the agency may struggle to meet its ambitious goals.