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Feb. 6, 2020 

State Water Resources Control Board Sets Lower Response Levels for PFOA, PFOS

Talking Points, Fact Sheets Available to Assist ACWA Members with Inquiries

The State Water Resources Control Board’s Division of Drinking Water (DDW) today announced lower Drinking Water Response Levels for Perfluorooctanoate (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonate (PFOS) of 10 parts per trillion (ppt) and 40 ppt, respectively.

The new levels replace the interim level of 70 ppt for the total combined concentration of the two contaminants, which belong to the group of chemicals collectively called per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). The former level is consistent with the existing U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Health Advisory.

Under AB 756 (C. Garcia), which went into effect Jan. 1, water systems with PFOA or PFOS concentrations that exceed the Response Levels are required to remove the water source from service, provide treatment or notify their customers in writing about the exceedance. AB 756 also outlines measures about communicating the test results to customers.

Today’s action will impact many water agencies that have water supplies below the previous level, but exceed this new level.

Additionally, the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) is in the process of developing Public Health Goals (PHG) for PFOA and PFOS. Establishing PHGs is a preliminary step for the State Water Board to set Maximum Contaminant Levels.


ACWA has updated its PFAS toolkit to assist member agencies in educating customers, stakeholders and the media about PFAS. The toolkit includes:


PFAS are a large group of chemicals that have been used extensively in consumer products such as carpets, clothing, furniture fabric, food packaging, nonstick cookware and firefighting foams. They were identified as health risks during the 2000s and phased out of manufacturing in the United States, but some imported products still contain these substances. PFAS substances have been detected in some water supplies, particularly around airports, landfills, and existing and former military bases.

To date, more than 600 drinking water supply wells in California have been tested for PFOA and PFOS. Systems that previously exceeded the 70 ppt interim PFOA or PFOS Response Level are working to resolve the exceedance through treatment or removal of the water source from service. Through the State Water Board’s investigation, seven additional PFAS chemicals have been detected in multiple wells in California. The State Water Board has requested OEHHA’s recommendation in developing notification levels for these chemicals.

ACWA is committed to working with state and federal agencies to ensure safe drinking water supplies and will continue to monitor and inform association members regarding regulatory and legislative changes on PFAS, as well as their potential impact on water agencies.


For questions about DDW and EPA actions on PFAS, please contact Regulatory Advocate Adam Borchard at (916) 441-4545.