Topic: Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFOA/PFAS)
In 2019 the legislature passed SB 756(Garcia) which required public water systems to monitor per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances and upon identification notify customers on their water bill and publish the findings online. On February 6, 2020, under the authority of the Deputy Director of the Division of Drinking Water (DDW), California issued updated drinking water response levels of 10 parts per trillion for perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and 40 parts per trillion for perfluorooctane sulfonic acid. Technology required to treat these contaminants at such small molecular levels is expensive and not economically feasible for many small systems and those serving disadvantaged communities.
Though PFAS and PFOA are the more well-understood members of this field of compounds, there are thousands more. In more recent developments, CalMutuals has begun to follow the possible effort to classify the entire range of compounds. PFAS is so broad a group that it is impossible to fully understand the regulatory implications of such a mandate. Instead, EPA should give careful consideration to individual PFAS, and focus on those that are the most persistent and pose the greatest human health risk. Furthermore, funding considerations especially for disadvantaged communities must be considered. The legislature must ensure that there is funding available for planning, testing, treatment, or obtaining alternative water sources to comply with any proposed PFAS standard. CalMutuals will continue to follow this issue.
Topic: SAFER Program Risk Assessment 2.0 Methodology
The Safe and Affordable Funding for Equity and Resilience (SAFER) program is continuing to refine their risk assessment 2.0 methodology for the coming year. They have selected metrics to assess ability to serve affordable, clean water and the next step in the process is standardizing the data generated by the indicators. A system of thresholds, weights, and scores will be used to analyze results. Thresholds on individual metrics may be binary or include multiple levels.
Another proposed tool is the weighting of metric categories and individual metrics. A range of 1-3 has been created to reflect the perceived criticality of each section. Water quality and accessibility received multipliers of 3, while TMF was given a 2, and affordability received a 1. DDW clarified that they do not have the strongest data points for affordability metrics and hope to improve their data and focus there in coming assessments. Individual indicators will be similarly assigned a weight in order to create the average value for each category. These scoring thresholds and weighting rules will be used to average results and create a standardized numerical score that can be compared for all systems evaluated.
CalMutuals will continue to monitor the program and provide updates. CalMutuals does not believe that affordability is being given appropriate consideration and certain metrics that are not appropriate.
You can read the White Paper here.