PFAS contamination is causing a ripple effect throughout water systems in the US. Compliance with existing and upcoming regulations, as well as the resulting costs to treat contaminated water, are major challenges faced by utilities and municipalities. In early 2023, the EPA proposed a national maximum contaminant level (MCL) for PFOA and PFOS at 4 parts per trillion (ppt) while also proposing to regulate four other PFAS chemicals, including PFNA, PFHxS, PFBS, and GenX, as a mixture. The EPA has been working to tighten regulations on PFAS since 2021, and plans to enforce the proposed MCLs by the end of 2023.
Due to its widespread use over the past decades and the fact that PFAS does not biodegrade in the environment, water systems that test for this contaminant typically tend to find it in their water. And with the introduction of national MCLs for PFAS substances, more and more systems will need to take action, which can result in significant treatment costs. In fact, a recent study commissioned by AWWA estimates that water treatment to maintain contamination under the proposed levels will be upward of $3.8 billion annually. Using litigation to cover the cost of PFAS contamination4cover the cost of PFAS contamination cleanup Filing a lawsuit may be an effective way to.
Many water utilities simply cannot cover their portion of that annual cost, and also would rather not pass such a burden onto their ratepayers. And rightly so, considering they are not at fault for the contamination. An increasingly popular solution to this is to hold PFAS manufacturers responsible for the cleanup costs of contaminated drinking water, and to do so through litigation. That said, the idea of filing a lawsuit can be overwhelming, particularly for those without previous experience in water contamination litigation. If this applies to you, know that you are not alone.
When considering the option of filing a lawsuit, it’s important to understand what actually happens. To help provide clarity, we’ve compiled a list of the most common questions and concerns we hear, along with answers and information about the litigation process.