Wisconsin regulators move ahead with groundwater PFAS rules

Wisconsin’s natural resources board unanimously voted on Dec. 14 to proceed with regulating so-called forever chemicals in the state’s groundwater, 10 months after a plan was scrapped under pressure from the state’s powerful business industry, according to a report from the Associated Press.

The vote to move ahead with developing limits on four types of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, more commonly known as PFAS chemicals, came after the board in February adopted standards for surface and drinking water. Those went into effect in June.

Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, the state’s largest business lobbying group, the Wisconsin Paper Council, Midwest Food Products Association, and the Wisconsin Civil Justice Council Inc. asked state regulators in November to stop work on groundwater limits and wait for the EPA to impose federal standards.

The groups argued no consensus exists on groundwater standards. They also argued that creating different standards for groundwater, after limits have already been set for drinking water, would lead to confusion.

The state Department of Natural Resources has 90 active PFAS groundwater investigations and the chemicals have been found in public drinking water over more than 40 communities. Communities grappling with PFAS contamination include Marinette, Madison, Eau Claire, La Crosse, Wausau, and the towns of Peshtigo and Campbell, among others.