UCMR5 Compliance Expected to Increase Available Public Data on PFAS Compounds in Drinking Water and Support Potential Future Rulemaking

January 18, 2024
Brenda H. Gotanda, Esq. and Technical Consultant Will Hitchcock
MGKF Special Alert - 2024 Federal Forecast

Sampling required by EPA's Fifth Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule 5 (UCMR5) will continue in the year ahead, resulting in greater public awareness of the presence of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in public drinking water as well as providing key data for potential future PFAS rulemaking and compliance.

UCMR5 requires certain public water systems to sample and analyze their water for 29 PFAS compounds (and lithium) between 2023 and 2025 and to submit the data to EPA.  The UCMR5 monitoring rule is used to collect nationally representative data on contaminants that EPA suspects are present in drinking water, but for which no regulatory standards have been established under the Safe Drinking Water Act. The required monitoring provides EPA with information on the occurrence and levels of specified unregulated contaminants in the nation's drinking water.  Among other things, the required monitoring is expected to provide EPA with a better understanding of where and to what extent different PFAS co-occur with each other in drinking water, and to help it make determinations about potential future regulation of PFAS (and lithium) and other actions to protect public health under the Safe Drinking Water Act. In March 2023, EPA proposed to regulate six types of PFAS in drinking water through a proposed National Primary Drinking Water Regulation. If finalized as proposed, covered public water systems would be allowed to use data collected under UCMR5 to satisfy certain initial monitoring requirements.  

EPA makes the monitoring data available to the public on its UCMR5 website and provides periodic summaries of the data. Currently, only about 15 percent of the expected sampling data has been made publicly available. Thus, we expect to see considerably more data released in the year ahead. Based on EPA’s most recent summary of UCMR5 data (published in October 2023), PFOA and PFOS were detected above EPA’s Health Advisory Levels for 9.5percent and 10.7 percent, respectively, of the public water systems with results to date.  

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law has made considerable public funding available to address water supplies impacted by PFAS, particularly for those serving small or disadvantaged communities.  Our firm represents public water system operators addressing PFAS issues and has provided guidance on UCMR5 sampling and other matters.  If you have questions or would like assistance, please contact Will Hitchcock or Brenda Gotanda at our firm.