The detection of perchlorate (ClO4−) on and beyond Earth requires ClO4− reduction technologies to support water purification and space exploration. However, the reduction of ClO4− usually entails either harsh conditions or multi-component enzymatic processes. We developed a heterogeneous Mo−Pd/C catalyst from sodium molybdate to reduce aqueous ClO4− into Cl− with 1 atm H2 at room temperature. Upon hydrogenation by H2/Pd, the reduced Mo oxide species and a bidentate nitrogen ligand (1:1 molar ratio) are transformed in situ into oligomeric Mo sites on the carbon support. The turnover number and frequency for oxygen atom transfer from ClOx− substrates reached 3850 and 165 h−1 on each Mo site. This simple bioinspired design yielded a robust water-compatible catalyst for the removal and utilization of ClO4−.