Jul 20, 2020

Colorado Creates Policy to Regulate PFAS

Colorado has created its first policy to regulate per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).

pfas contamination

Colorado has created its first policy to regulate per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).

Colorado’s Water Quality Control Commission voted unanimously to enact a policy to put new limits on PFAS. 

In 2016, scientists found elevated levels of PFAS in the drinking water for Security, Widefield and Fountain, reported the Pagosa Daily Post. Recent results from a state study found four water sources where levels exceeded a health guideline set by the EPA in 2008. According to this study, all of the surface water samples had detectable levels of the chemicals.

To mitigate this issue, the Colorado Water Quality Control Division proposed rules to require wastewater treatment plants and industrial sites to monitor the chemicals. Authority for the state to limit the chemicals in future wastewater permits was also established.

Days before the commission hearing, Aurora, Colorado Springs and Greeley joined utilities and water districts in demanding regulators pause deliberations over the new rules, reported the Pagosa Daily Post. They claimed the rules focused on wastewater treatment plants, which do not add PFAS to water systems. 

According to the Metro Wastewater Reclamation District, which serves more than 2 million people around metro Denver, if the state required wastewater districts to clean up the chemicals, it could cost ratepayers over $700 million.

Under the rules, the district also likely wouldn’t face any of the new limits on PFAS until 2031. According to Meg Parish, a permit manager with the division, by that time it could be cheaper to clean up the chemicals.

“The department has several actions planned in order to protect Coloradans from the negative health consequences of PFAS,” said the Colorado Water Quality Control Commission. 

According to a document released by the commission, this includes: conducting a survey of fire departments and their use of PFAS containing foam as directed by legislation in HB19-1279; developing an inventory of where PFAS have been found or believed to have been released; considering new statewide regulatory standards for drinking water, surface water and groundwater; ensuring proper disposal of contaminated materials; and studying health impacts of PFAS.

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