Pentagon warns of ‘decadeslong’ effort to comply with PFAS rule

By Ellie Borst | 04/17/2024 06:20 AM EDT

EPA’s new drinking water standard will spark a “sea change” for the Department of Defense, an official told lawmakers.

Brendan Owens.

Brendan Owens, assistant secretary of Defense for energy, installations and the environment, on Tuesday. House Armed Services Committee/YouTube

One of the Department of Defense’s top environmental officials told lawmakers Tuesday it could take decades to get in compliance with EPA’s first-ever limits on “forever chemicals” in drinking water.

Those limits, finalized last week, give water providers five years to bring PFAS contamination below the acceptable thresholds.

“This is a sea change in terms of the way that the department needs to engage around this specific issue,” Brendan Owens, assistant secretary for energy, installations and environment, said during a House Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness hearing.


“We have been working in anticipation of this rule coming out for the last eight months, … and we have been working in partnership with the military departments to put together that plan on how we’re going to address these in a prioritized way,” Owens continued. “It’s going to be a significant, decadeslong, long-term challenge that we need to get after consistently.”