February 11, 2022

Wisconsin PFAS Update

Funding Available to Municipalities to Voluntarily Test for PFAS Compounds

In an effort to increase sampling for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in Wisconsin water supplies, Governor Evers announced that funding is available to municipalities who are interested in such sampling. 

The Wisconsin PFAS Action Council recommended sampling of municipal drinking water systems in the Wisconsin PFAS Action Plan. Through funding from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) will fund and support local communities that wish to sample for PFAS. Sampling is voluntary and available to all municipal drinking water systems in Wisconsin. WDNR will partner with participating communities to facilitate sampling, communicate results, and support follow-up actions. If a community finds that its drinking water supply is impacted with PFAS, WDNR and the Wisconsin Department of Health Services have pledged to work with those communities. It is also likely that those communities will look to potential sources in proximity to municipal wellheads to determine whether actions need to be taken. All results of samples taken as part of this voluntary testing program will be available on the WDNR webpage Voluntary Drinking Water PFAS Sampling Project For Municipal Systems. Communities interested in sampling for PFAS should contact WDNR directly by email here.

This WDNR voluntary PFAS testing program for municipal drinking water systems coincides with WDNR’s release of additional industrial wastewater sampling results that had been held as anonymous following the ruling in a recent Jefferson County Circuit Court decision in Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, Inc. (WMC) v. Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, et al., Case No. 21-CV-111. In that decision, the Jefferson County Circuit Court upheld WDNR’s authority to sample wastewater discharges for PFAS on two statutory grounds, but denied several other bases WDNR asserted. On February 3, 2022, Wisconsin DOJ filed a Notice of Appeal concerning the decision making the case destined for the Wisconsin Court of Appeals. For more information regarding the WMC case and Jefferson County Circuit Court decision, see our January 27, 2022 Client Alert

Status of Wisconsin Proposed Rules for PFAS Standards in Water

In further developments, the WDNR Natural Resources Board (NRB) will consider adoption of proposed standards for PFAS in drinking water, surface water and groundwater at the NRB’s February 23, 2022 meeting. During the meeting, the NRB will be considering the following proposed rules:

  • Proposed rules affecting chapter NR 140 related to numerical standards (the Cycle 10 revisions establishing standards for PFAS and revising existing standards for TCE);
  • Proposed rules affecting chapter NR 809 related to the promulgation of new drinking water maximum contaminant levels for PFAS including Perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) and Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA); and 
  • Proposed rules affecting chapters NR 105,106, 219, and other related regulations to add surface water quality criteria and analytical methods for PFAS, including PFOS and PFOA, as well as revisions to the procedures in the Wisconsin Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (“WPDES”) permitting program to implement the new water quality criteria.

The NRB provides opportunities for public comment regarding these proposed rules by either submitting written comments or speaking at the NRB meeting. All written comments and requests to testify at the meeting must be received by the Board Liaison by 11 a.m. on February 16, 2022.  Instructions on how to provide public comments can be found here.

If approved by the NRB, proposed rules will be sent to the Governor and State Legislature for final approval and promulgation.

For more information, please contact the Michael Best attorneys listed below.

back to top