EPA announces plans for new landfill wastewater PFAS regulations

Jan. 24, 2023
The agency’s Effluent Guidelines Program Plan 15 announced that, after a detailed study, the agency now intends to revise existing ELGs to address PFAS in leachate discharges from landfills.

The U.S. EPA has released Effluent Guidelines Program Plan 15, which determines that effluent guidelines and standards for landfills are warranted for reducing per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in leachate discharges from landfills. The plan also announces new and expanded studies for industrial wastewater.

This plan focuses on evaluating the extent and nature of both nutrient and PFAS discharges. Plan 15 also advances EPA’s commitment in the PFAS Strategic Roadmap to restrict PFAS discharges from industrial sources through a multi-faceted Effluent Limitations Guidelines program.

Plan 15 announces EPA’s determination that revised effluent limitations guidelines and pretreatment standards (ELGs) are warranted for reducing PFAS in leachate discharges from landfills. The agency made this decision after concluding a detailed study that was discussed in Preliminary Effluent Guidelines Program Plan 15.

After the detailed study of the landfills category, the agency had decided to develop new effluent guidelines and pretreatment standards for landfills that discharge their leachate. The new rulemaking has not yet arrived; instead, the announcement shares EPA’s intent to revise the exiting ELGs to address PFAS discharge in the future.

“For 50 years, EPA has implemented the Clean Water Act to protect our nation’s waters that are essential to healthy communities,” said Radhika Fox, EPA’s assistant administrator for water. “This Effluent Guidelines Program Plan represents a critical next step to tackle pollutants like PFAS and nutrients at the source, before they can harm our health and the environment.”

The Agency is also announcing several new and expanded studies for industrial wastewater, including:

  • an expansion of the ongoing study of PFAS discharges from textile manufacturers;
  • a new study of publicly owned treatment works (POTW) influents to characterize the PFAS concentrations from industrial dischargers to POTWs and inform implementation of pretreatment programs to address them; and
  • a new study on concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) to make an informed, reasoned decision on whether to undertake rulemaking to revise the ELGs for CAFOs.