EPA’s proposed limits on forever chemicals could impact SC water supplies

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, S.C. — Some big changes could be in store for many local water suppliers in South Carolina if the Environmental Protection Agency’s new limits on forever chemicals take effect.

The EPA wants limits of 4 parts per trillion for two PFAS chemicals. According to the Associated Press, PFAS, or per- and polyfluorinated substances, are a group of compounds that are widespread, dangerous and expensive to remove from water.

Channel 9′s Tina Terry learned that the new limits could end up costing those local companies, and some of that cost could be passed to you.

The chemicals are often used in a variety of industries, and they’ve long been considered a risk to humans and animals.

“They last for a very long time, and they can build up in the environment and in people’s bodies,” said Brandon Jones, the Catawba Riverkeeper. “That’s what makes them dangerous, and some of them are known carcinogens.”


Neighbors like Linda Davenport say the new proposed regulations to protect tap water are welcome.

“Tap water is used for everything in our house, and I want it to be safe and healthy,” Davenport said.

But the limits aren’t in effect currently, and testing by the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control in 2020 showed that 24 surface water plants are already over 4 parts per trillion. Two of those plants are in our area.

A plant in Camden, in Kershaw County, had 7.4 parts per trillion for PFAS -- that plant serves more than 16,000 people. Another plant in Cheraw in Chesterfield County that provides water to more than 8,000 people had 7.2 parts per trillion. Charlotte’s water supply was under 4 parts per trillion, according to recent data.

“There hasn’t been a lot of statutes in place to regulate these chemicals in our water,” Jones said.

Jones added that if the proposal goes into effect, all drinking water suppliers will have to monitor for these chemicals and will have to be prepared to remove them.

“I would expect anyone using surface water to have some of these chemicals in their water,” Jones said. “They will have to have the capacity to treat for that and that is certainly going to increase costs.”

The EPA’s proposal won’t be finalized until the end of the year, and it could change by that time.

You can see the full list of surface water supplies in South Carolina and their PFAS content at this link.

(WATCH: Attorneys file lawsuit claiming New-Indy is releasing toxins in Catawba River)