Recommendations on Groundwater Pollution Limits Could Affect Many Wisconsinites

State of Wisconsin health officials have recommended limits on 27 pollutants found in groundwater, including one type of pollutant that’s increasingly in the headlines — PFAS.

The limits, known as enforcement standards, can be used to regulate facilities, practices, and activities that can affect groundwater.

More than 60% of state residents obtain their drinking water from groundwater, including many people living in Milwaukee suburbs.

Officials from the Dept. of Health Services (DHS), Dept. of Natural Resources (DNR), and Dept. of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection discussed the recommendations Friday at a news conference in Madison.

The portion of the proposal drawing the most initial attention covers substances known PFAS, or Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances. Those are human-made chemicals found in non-stick cookware, fast food wrappers, firefighting foam, fabric protectors, and other products.

Wisconsin officials are proposing an enforcement standard for PFAS that is far more stringent than what the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recommends.

DHS also wants even tighter limits that could trigger an earlier step — preventive action aimed at protecting the public.

The DNR hasn’t revised state groundwater standards in ten years. The department says it gave a list of substances to DHS and asked DHS to review.