Aug 30, 2019

Wisconsin Governor Plans to Expand PFAS Monitoring

The governor directed the state DNR to form PFAS standards for drinking and surface water, in addition to groundwater

Wisconsin to expand monitoring for PFAS in drinking water, surface water and groundwater
Wisconsin to expand monitoring for PFAS in drinking water, surface water and groundwater

On Aug. 27, Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers directed the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to form per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) standards for safe drinking water and surface water, in addition to currently existing groundwater quality standards. 

According to the Wisconsin Public Radio, this announcement comes on the heels of a state Department of Health Services recommendation in June to enact a groundwater quality standard of 20 ppt for PFOA and PFOS. The standards for drinking and surface water, however, may be different than the standards set for groundwater quality.

“The surface water standard will be set by the DNR with our toxicologists but using scientific data from the Department of Health Services and also we would be establishing that safe drinking water standard with the Department of Health Services,” said Darsi Foss, administrator with the DNR’s Environmental Management Division, as reported by the Wisconsin Public Radio.

Gov. Evers’ announcement also is one of the first steps for the DNR to amend several administrative codes to create enforceable standards, reported the Sun Prairie Star. These codes include NR 105 surface water quality standards to limit PFAS discharges; NR 140 to set groundwater quality standards to reduce PFAS in the state’s primary drinking water source; and NR 809 to set safe drinking water standards for all public water supplies.

“I am committed to protecting our state’s natural resources and ensuring every Wisconsinite has access to clean drinking water,” Evers said during the announcement, reported the Sun Prairie Star. “In the Year of Clean Drinking Water, I’m proud that my cabinet is working with communities, citizens, and businesses to address PFAS contamination across our state.”

According to the Wisconsin Public Radio, some environmental groups have expressed criticism for the state’s slow response in addressing PFAS concerns. Chris Groh, executive director for the Wisconsin Rural Water Assn., representing many small systems across the state stressed that while his members are not opposed to increased PFAS testing, the testing could take an economic toll on some small systems across the state.

“A lot of our systems are very small, several thousand people,” Groh said. “That’s a big price to pay for something of concern at the local level.” 

The new standards will be developed within the next 30 months.

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