Environmental groups petition DNR to move forward with groundwater protections

Published: Jul. 5, 2022 at 4:15 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Environmental protection and public health groups banded with the Midwest Environmental Advocates (MEA) to petition the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to list PFAS chemicals as a contaminant under Wisconsin’s Groundwater Law on Friday.

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, also known as PFAS, are long-lasting chemicals that have been linked to substantial health problems in people and animals, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency. It has also been detected in Wisconsin groundwater.

“Nearly one million Wisconsin households with private wells rely on groundwater as their main source of drinking water,” said MEA Staff Attorney Rob Lee. He said that there is no federal law that protects groundwater, and that “it is solely the state’s responsibility to act.”

The petition is the first step to developing standards that are enforceable by the DNR for groundwater, the group explained. It adds PFOS, PFOA, two of the most well known PFAS contaminants, as well as PFBS and Genx chemicals to the list of groundwater contaminants.

“This petition gives state officials an opportunity to move quickly to protect public health,” said Doug Oitzinger, a Marinette resident and a member of S.O.H2O.

If the petition is granted, the list will be sent to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services to review health-based standards for the chemicals.

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