The AEA NJPDES Committee in January presented well-reasoned recommendations regarding future regulation of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in surface waters in testimony to the Clean Water Council (CWC). AEA advised the CWC and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to formulate permitting regulations informed by EPA-approved testing and data being collected by drinking water purveyors.
The CWC is required to hold an annual public hearing but COVID pushed the 2020 hearing into 2021; it was held Jan. 21 virtually. The hearing opened with remarks by Shawn LaTourette, Acting Commissioner, along with Virginia Wong, Chief, NPDES Permit Program, Water Division at USEPA Region 2 as well as Meg Parish, permits section manager, and Josie Nusz, water quality scientist, both from the State of Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment.
Pam Carolan, executive director of Mount Laurel Township MUA and committee chair, was the first of representatives from AEA-member organizations who testified. She was followed by Tom Laustsen of Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission, Ron Anastasio of Somerset Raritan Valley RSA, Mike Wynne of Hanover Sewerage Authority, Diane Alexander of Maraziti Falcon, John Scheri of Mott MacDonald, and Dennis Palmer of Landis SA.
PVSC also arranged for Attorney Amanda Waters of Aqualaw, a Maryland-based firm with expertise in water, wastewater and related law, to testify. The entire AEA NJPDES Committee worked together to formulate the testimony.
Ms. Carolan testified that the wastewater sector shares the concerns about the presence of PFAS compounds in the environment.
“We are partners in environmental protection,” she said, noting that AEA members have worked successfully with the DEP to address nitrate in the Passaic River and PCBs in the Delaware River.
Several speakers advised the CWC that source control is the best option for managing PFAS chemicals. AEA recommended that New Jersey allow time for the gathering and analysis of the valuable data that new drinking water regulations will provide to help determine locations in the State of greatest concern. AEA noted that although there is no EPA-approved method of analysis for wastewater at this time, it is expected soon. Waiting for that approved method would create clarity and uniformity.
Treating PFAS chemicals in wastewater is a problematic approach because of limitations in technology available and the great costs of these technologies, Mr. Scheri and Mr. Palmer testified.
Mr. Laustsen described steps PVSC is already taking to track potential sources of PFAS in its flow. He and several speakers discussed the value of this type of voluntary monitoring. The State should take a targeted approach, using source control and protection of drinking water intakes as the objectives, several speakers advised.
AEA testimony also advised the State be cognizant of the impact surface water regulations could have on the processing of biosolids, limiting well-accepted approaches like land application and causing big cost increases.
AEA submitted a seven-page comment document to the CWC on Jan. 29, available for reading and download here. Among other entities that submitted written comments were PVSC, Landis SA, and Pinelands Wastewater Company, which is owned by Middlesex Water.
The CWC is a statutorily created body of State government established in 1967 to serve as an advisory board to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and to improve the water pollution control program in New Jersey. The Council consists of 18 appointed members: seven permanent members and 11 members who serve for four year terms. For its current membership, follow the link: https://www.nj.gov/dep/cleanwatercouncil/cwcmembers.htm.
Interested in learning more about the AEA NJPDES Committee or becoming a members? Contact Peggy Gallos.