by Sheryl Hamlin
What are PFAs?
From the notice issued by the Water Board, PFAs are described as follows:
PFAS are a family of more than 5,000 man-made and mostly unregulated chemicals that have been produced since the mid-1900s. They are mobile, persistent, and bioaccumulative. They are resistant to degradation in the environment and when degradation occurs, it often results in the formation of other PFAS compounds. The PFAS compounds have very different physical and chemical properties. Currently, the key classes of concern are perfluoroalkyl sulfonic acids such as the long-chain perfluorooctanesulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA).
PFAS are manufactured globally and have been used in the production of a wide range of industrial and household products. Discharges to sewer systems from these sources, including disposal of landfill leachate and firefighting foam, results in PFAS in the influent to POTWs. Typical POTW treatment systems are not designed to remove PFAS. Therefore, the discharge from POTWs, especially those with industrial inputs, are possible contributors of PFAS to the environment.
Read the entire Water Board notice here .
According to the Water Board, There were a total of 25 publicly owned treatment works with at least 1 MGD or greater capacity that were sent the investigative order in the LA regional board jurisdiction. This is a statewide order that was issued by Eileen Sobeck, the State Water Board Executive Director on July 9, 2020
How do PFAs enter the Biota?
Biota includes all of the animal and plant life in a region. The Water Board provided a model of how PFAs can contaminate surface water and agriculture in a Biota.
Source: Interstate Technical Regulatory Council, Per-and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances, March 2020
Read more about PFAs here.
From Landfills to Wastewater Plants
Earlier this year, the California Water Board issued orders for PFAs to be monitored at landfills. The Toland landfill was one of those receiving these orders.
Now, the following wastewater plants (aka POTW or Publicly Owned Treatment Works) in Ventura County have been asked to supply information about the PFAs in both the effluent and the biosolids (sludge):
In addition to Santa Paula, some other facilities that received this order in Ventura County include the Ventura WRF by Ventura City, Hill Canyon WWTP, Ojai Valley WWTP, Camrosa Water Reclamation Facility, Oxnard Wastewater Treatment Plant, Simi Valley WQCP, Moorpark WWTP – WRR, Fillmore WWTP and Wastewater Recycling Plant and Camarillo WRP.
Fines are specified at $5000 per day for failure to submit the measurements and the questionnaire.
There are regulatory levels for PFAs in drinking water, according to the Water Board, but as of now there are no levels for PFAs in wastewater. Read more from the State Water Board here.
Note the EPA stepped up its requirements for PFA testing in drinking water in 2019.
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