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Press Release

PUC Recognizes Drinking Water Week, Addresses ‘Forever Chemical’ Congressional Action

Published on 5/9/2024

Filed under: Water and Wastewater

HARRISBURG – The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) today highlighted the recent “Drinking Water Week,” held May 5 through May 11, in the Commonwealth as part of an ongoing effort to increase awareness about the importance of safe drinking water.

“Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, and related forever chemicals are the biggest challenge our water and wastewater systems have faced in decades – and it is essential that we work together to address this issue,” said Ralph V. Yanora, PUC Commissioner and Co-Vice Chair of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) Committee on Water, in his remarks at the PUC’s May 9 Public Meeting. “Recognizing Drinking Water Week is an important way to recognize the vital role water plays in everyday life for both water professionals and the communities they serve.”

This year’s observance of Drinking Water Week, a decades-long tradition led by the American Water Works Association, coincides with the 50th anniversary of the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). It also comes on the heels of a recently finalized proposal by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to designate PFAS as hazardous substances under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA).

The PUC recognizes the critical role that regulated water and wastewater public utilities play in providing safe, affordable services to communities across the state. However, with the looming possibility of CERCLA liability for PFAS remediation, the PUC notes that utilities face significant financial challenges that may ultimately be passed on to consumers through increased rates. In an April 19, 2024, letter to Members of the Pennsylvania Congressional Delegation, the Pennsylvania PUC voiced concerns over the potential impacts on water and wastewater public utilities and the resulting financial burden on Pennsylvania water customers.

While the PUC is urging Congress to take decisive action to address potential CERCLA liability for water and wastewater public utilities, the Commission observed Drinking Water Week by addressing that PFAS are difficult to remove from water sources and require innovative treatment methods. The PUC also encouraged investment in research and development related to advanced treatment technologies, along with collaboration between regulators, industry, and the public as an essential partnership for effective mitigation efforts.

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission balances the needs of consumers and utilities; ensures safe and reliable utility service at reasonable rates; protects the public interest; educates consumers to make independent and informed utility choices; furthers economic development; and fosters new technologies and competitive markets in an environmentally sound manner.

Visit the PUC’s website at www.puc.pa.gov for recent news releases and video of select proceedings. You can also follow us on X (formerly Twitter), Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and YouTube. Search for the “Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission” or “PA PUC” on your favorite social media channel for updates on utility issues and other helpful consumer information.

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