Water Quality PFAS Standards for North Carolina

Addressing PFAS in North Carolina requires a comprehensive approach.  EPA has enacted federal drinking water standards for six PFAS compounds that public water systems will have to meet.  Reducing PFAS in our drinking water supplies, surface water and groundwater, requires state action.   

Development of state PFAS standards  

Over the last two years, DEQ has developed proposed standards for surface water discharges, under the 2B rules, and groundwater cleanup standards under the 2L rules.  These proposed standards complement the federal drinking water standards by reducing PFAS entering our drinking water sources and addressing past contamination.

Reducing PFAS at the discharge source is the most cost-effective way to protect public health and lower the cost of meeting the federal drinking water standards. The proposed surface water and groundwater rules protect public health and ensure residents do not bear the entire cost of removing PFAS from drinking water.  

The proposed groundwater and surface water standards must be approved by the Environmental Management Commission (EMC). 

In July, DEQ presented the proposed rule packages and fiscal notes for groundwater and surface water standards to the EMC Committees with recommendations to proceed to the full Commission for consideration.  The Water Quality Committee deferred a motion to vote on the proposed surface water standards until the September committee meeting.  The Groundwater Committee directed DEQ to revise the regulatory impact analysis and proposed rules to three compounds (PFOA, PFOS and GenX) instead of eight.  

View DEQ's presentations for the July EMC Committee Meetings:

Proposed Surface Water PFAS Standards 
2B PFAS Standards presentation
2B Regulatory Impact Analysis (draft) | Appendices
Certified Regulatory Impact Analysis

Proposed Groundwater PFAS Standards
2L PFAS Standards Presentation
2L Regulatory Impact Analysis | Rule Language

Next Steps

In September, DEQ plans to present the revised proposals to the committees.  If approved by the committees and the EMC, the rules would go to public notice and public hearings for input and comment, before returning to the full Commission for final approval.

Timeline of Standards Development

October 2021

In the US EPA’s October 18, 2021 publication of the PFAS Strategic Roadmap, the EPA stated that it expected to propose MCLs for PFOA and PFOS in the fall of 2022, with a final rule to follow in late 2023.

May 2022

DEQ provided an informational presentation to the full EMC on PFAS in North Carolina, including updates on Chemours, EPA actions, the prevalence of PFAS in NC and the status of regulations in other states.   
View the May 2022 Presentation

June 2022

On June 7, DEQ released the North Carolina Action Strategy for PFAS, outlining state actions to complement the federal actions and address PFAS, five years after the discovery of GenX in the Cape Fear River.  A key component of the Strategy is proposing regulatory standards for groundwater, surface water and drinking water.   Read the NC Action Strategy for PFAS

  • Also in June, the EPA published interim updated Lifetime Health Advisory levels of 0.004 ppt for PFOA and 0.02 ppt for PFOS, as well as final LHAs of 10 ppt for GenX chemicals and 2,000 ppt for (PFBS).

July 2022

DEQ provided a PFAS update to the Full EMC, detailing recent EPA actions, the Action Strategy for PFAS and how DEQ is moving forward. Read the July Minutes Summary 

March 2023

The EPA announced the proposed National Primary Drinking Water Regulation to establish Maximum Contaminant Levels for six PFAS.

June 2023

One year after the Action Strategy was released, DEQ announced it was moving forward with rulemaking for groundwater and surface water standards.

July 2023

DEQ presented information items on PFAS standards rulemaking concepts and federal actions to the EMC Committees.
View Presentation to the Groundwater Committee
View the Presentation to the Water Quality Committee

November 2023 

DEQ provided an informational presentation to the full EMC on PFAS Water Quality Standards rulemaking.  

January 2024

DEQ began stakeholder meetings on proposed rulemaking, with a 02L Stakeholder Meeting on January 22, 2024, and virtual 02B Stakeholder Meetings on January 29 and January 30, 2024. 

DEQ gave informational presentations to the Committees on affected sources and the cost-benefit analysis approach.  
View the January presentation to the Water Quality Committee
View the January presentation to the Groundwater Committee 

February 2024

DEQ held 02L Stakeholder Meetings on February 8 and February 22, 2024.

March 2024

DEQ gave informational presentations to the EMC Committees.
View the PFAS Update on Stakeholder Meetings and Status of EPA Actions presentation to the Water Quality Committee.
View the PFAS Groundwater Quality Standards Rulemaking Update to the Groundwater Committee

April 2024   

On April 10, EPA announced final National Primary Drinking Water Standards for six PFAS.

May 2024

DEQ's action item on the PFAS Groundwater Quality Standards was changed to an informational presentation before the Groundwater Committee.
Read Secretary Biser's Letter urging the EMC to take action
View the Rulemaking Update Presentation | Rule Amendment | Regulatory Impact Analysis
An informational presentation to the Water Quality Committee was on the agenda but the committee did not hear it.
View the Update on PFAS Surface Water Quality Standards Rulemaking

DEQ held 02B Stakeholder Meetings on May 30 and May 31, 2024.

The Office of State Budget and Management certified the regulatory impact analysis or fiscal note for the 2L Groundwater standards. Read the Fiscal Note