WI DNR begins new PFAS testing program for contaminated drinking water

60074480 - water valve
60074480 - water valve(WSAW)
Published: Jul. 22, 2019 at 3:29 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

After recent discoveries of contaminated drinking water and groundwater across the state, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is beginning a new voluntary PFAS testing program.

PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) are a group of human-made chemicals used for decades in numerous products including non-stick cookware, fast food wrappers, stain-resistant sprays, and certain types of firefighting foam.

"No one should ever be afraid to turn on their tap. Clean drinking water is a public health priority," said DNR Secretary-designee Preston Cole. "Water is life-giving. We have an opportunity with this initiative to take a large step forward in protecting our citizens and our natural resources from harmful contaminants."

A letter was sent Monday to 125 municipal wastewater treatment facilities. The DNR is requesting they sample discharges for PFAS. The DNR will use the data to gain a better understanding how and where contaminants are entering the air, land, and waters of the state before ending up in public and private drinking water.

Data from the sampling results will be used to help facilities to identify and implement a plan to reduce the amount of PFOA and PFOS entering their facility. The data will also be used to inform the DNR on any efforts to adopt surface water standards and groundwater standards for these two PFAS compounds.

In addition to the sampling initiative, the DNR will invite the public to provide input.

The EPA currently does not have a federal drinking water standard for PFAS.

The state Department of Health Services recommends a cumulative groundwater enforcement standard of 20 nanograms per liter or parts per trillion. Those guidelines are comparable to other standards in New Hampshire, New Jersey, Vermont, and Minnesota.