Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources will launch rulemaking to set PFOA and PFOS standards

August 9, 2019

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources will begin its rulemaking process this fall to set enforcement standards for PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid) and PFOS (perfluorooctane sulfonate), two PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances).

This comes on the heels of Wisconsin State Senator Mark Miller (D) introducing SB 302, which would require state regulators to set acceptable discharge standards and take action when PFAS are detected in drinking water supplies. The bill is currently in the Natural Resources and Energy Committee awaiting a public hearing.

The state is also trying to get a handle on the extent of PFAS contamination at the Truax Field Air National Guard Base in Dane County. It has designated ChemDesign Products Inc., a company headquartered in Marinette, Wisconsin, as a “responsible party,” saying it manufactured products containing PFAS at the Johnson Controls site near the base.

Johnson Controls International PLC is also facing scrutiny over its clean-up efforts tied to discharges of firefighting foams containing PFAS at sites in northeastern Wisconsin.

Between 1962 and November 2017, firefighting foams containing PFAS were discharged into the ground at a Johnson Controls fire training facility, according to a July 3 DNR letter. The substances were detected not only at the training site but in groundwater and surface water outside facility boundaries, the Securities and Exchange Commission filing said. The DNR is working with Johnson Controls on interim and long-term plans to deal with the contamination.

Johnson Controls is offering bottled water to local residents and has installed a treatment system that removes the compounds from surface water flowing across the Johnson Controls property, according to a company spokesperson. The company has also developed plans to connect affected municipalities to municipal water systems.

As Governor Tony Evers (D) rolls out clean water initiatives as part of his “year of clean drinking water,” state regulators asked 125 municipal wastewater treatment plants in July to begin sampling and analyzing water flowing in and out of their facilities for PFAS in order to gain a better understanding of how and where these contaminants may be entering public drinking water supplies.