EPA Issues Interim Strategy to Regulate PFAS in Wastewater and Stormwater Discharge Permits

On November 22, 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued an Interim Strategy for Per-and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances in Federally Issued National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Permits, signaling that the agency will begin regulating PFAS in Clean Water Act permits in 2021. The interim guidance represents EPA’s first effort at regulating PFAS in wastewater and stormwater discharges. 

According to the interim strategy, EPA encourages permit writers to consider including requirements for monitoring PFAS in wastewater and stormwater discharges at facilities where PFAS are likely present.  EPA also suggests that permits incorporate best management practices for controlling or abating the discharge of PFAS where applicable. 

EPA recommends incorporating PFAS monitoring and control requirements into NPDES permits, municipal separate storm sewer system (MS4) permits, and industrial stormwater permits.  EPA acknowledges, however, that monitoring for PFAS is dependent on the availability of EPA-validated wastewater analytical methods, which EPA expects to release in 2021. Consequently, EPA recommends “a phased approach” to including any PFAS provisions in permits, through which monitoring requirements are triggered when EPA releases applicable analytical methods.   

EPA also plans to share information on permitting practices and to develop a permitting compendium on PFAS in 2021. To facilitate PFAS-related communication and knowledge sharing, EPA plans to build out additional NPDES permitting information on the EPA PFAS website, publish a PFAS permitting compendium that provides examples of permit conditions that have been developed and issued by states and EPA, and host webinars for states and EPA regions on PFAS topics. 

It is not yet clear how the Maine Department of Environmental Protection will implement this guidance, but permittees in Massachusetts and New Hampshire will be directly affected because the NPDES programs in those states are administered by the EPA. 

For more information about PFAS regulations in Maine, please consult Pierce Atwood’s Maine PFAS Tracker. If you have further questions about how EPA’s strategy could impact your wastewater or stormwater discharge permit, please contact Pierce Atwood environmental attorneys Bill Taylor or Emily Dupraz