Delaware PFAS Legislation in 2021 Sets Up PFAS Regulation for 2022
Delaware currently follows the EPA’s non-enforceable health advisory limit in drinking water of 70 parts per trillion for perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), two prominent types of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), but that is likely to soon change.
On October 20, 2021, Governor Carney signed into law House Bill No. 8, known as the Drinking Water Protection Act. The Act directs Delaware’s Division of Public Health (DPH), in collaboration with DNREC, “to establish state-level maximum contaminant levels (MCLs) for certain contaminants found in public drinking water systems” in the State, specifically PFOA and PFOS. If Delaware adopts stricter MCLs than any EPA limit, the State’s standard would control.
The Act sets rigorous deadlines for DPH and DNREC to follow as part of their regulatory processes. The Act gave DNREC and DPH 60 days from the effective date of the Act to begin the regulatory review process, and the Act set a nine-month deadline, now July 2022, for public hearings to be held on proposed regulations. The Act also required DNREC and DPH to conduct a statewide survey on PFAS in drinking water and both report the results of the survey and provide a proposed plan of action by January 1, 2022.
As of the date of this article, the author has not been able to locate a publicly available copy of any statewide survey results or report that have been presented to the Governor or General Assembly. However, in December 2021, the U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with DNREC, released the results of a groundwater-quality investigation from 2018 of 30 public water-supply wells in Delaware describing the occurrence and distribution of PFAS. It is unclear whether DNREC intends to rely on the data from the U.S. Geological Survey as the basis for the state-wide survey mandated by the Act.
The Drinking Water Protection Act set in motion what will likely be a very active 2022 for PFAS regulation in Delaware.