Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
Press Release

DNR Continues PFAS Drinking Water Well Sampling In Town Of Peshtigo

Residents Encouraged Opt-In For Free Test

By - Mar 5th, 2021 02:04 pm

MADISON, Wis. – The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) today announced it will continue to sample drinking water wells in an Expanded Site Investigation Area in the Town of Peshtigo due to the potential presence of groundwater contaminated with per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). The DNR will use state funds for the sampling effort, which is scheduled to begin this spring.

Beginning today, the DNR will mail information to more than 200 property owners in the Town of Peshtigo who have not yet opted to have their well sampled by the DNR. The packets include a potable well survey questionnaire, a property access permission agreement, an expanded site investigation area map with last year’s test results and information about the sampling effort.

The DNR, which initially began sampling in the area in the fall of 2020, will also contact and make arrangements with well owners who opted for well testing in the fall of 2020 but have not yet had their well sampled.

“The DNR encourages potable well owners in the prescribed area who have not yet had their wells tested to consider having their drinking water well tested this spring,” said Christine Haag, DNR Remediation and Redevelopment Program Director. “While property owners are not required to have their potable well tested, the DNR recommends that residents take advantage of these free tests to learn about potential PFAS in their drinking water.”

To begin scheduling the next well sampling events, the DNR requests that residents return signed access agreements by April 2, 2021, at the latest. There is no cost to the well owner for the sampling.

In addition to testing new wells, the DNR also plans to conduct confirmation sampling of some previously sampled wells. “It is out of an abundance of caution that the DNR seeks to re-test wells where PFAS was previously detected but did not exceed groundwater quality standards recommended by the Department of Health Services (DHS),” Haag said. “The DNR wants to confirm those earlier results to ensure residents have adequate information regarding potential PFAS in their potable wells to make informed decisions.”

Potable well owners in the expanded site investigation area with exceedances of any DHS Cycle 10 or Cycle 11 recommended groundwater standards may be eligible for a temporary bottled water supply provided by the DNR or any identified responsible party.

If the sample results from a well exceed the recommended groundwater standards, the DNR will contact the well owner via telephone within 24 hours of receiving the lab results. All well owners can expect to receive results via the U.S. Postal Service within 30 days of the sampling event.

PFAS contamination was detected in Marinette, Peshtigo and surrounding communities in soil, sediment, groundwater, surface water, private drinking water wells and biosolids. Under the DNR’s oversight, Johnson Controls Inc. and Tyco Fire Products, LP(JCI/Tyco) were identified as responsible parties. The DNR directed them to conduct investigations into areas impacted by PFAS contamination in the Marinette and Peshtigo area due to company operations.

The DNR is sampling potable wells in the Expanded Site Investigation Area because JCI/Tyco declined to perform the sampling within the area required by Wisconsin law.

PFAS are a group of human-made chemicals used for decades in numerous products, including non-stick cookware, fast food wrappers, stain-resistant sprays and certain types of firefighting foam. These contaminants have made their way into the environment through accidental spills of PFAS-containing materials, discharges of PFAS-containing wastewater to treatment plants and certain types of firefighting foams.

PFAS do not break down in the environment and have been discovered at concentrations of concern in groundwater, surface water and drinking water across Wisconsin. PFAS are known to bioaccumulate in the tissues of fish and wildlife. They also accumulate in the human body and pose several risks to human health.

Addressing PFAS contamination in the environment is part of Gov. Tony Evers’ statewide initiative to ensure Wisconsinites have access to clean, safe, drinking water. In 2019, the governor signed Executive Order #40 to address the issue of PFAS across the state.

The governor’s 2021-23 biennial budget unveiled in February proposes significant resources for the monitoring and testing of PFAS including over $20 million over the next two years for assistance and resources to local communities that are impacted by PFAS contamination, aiding local fire departments in disposing of PFAS foam, and adding additional DNR staff to implement the Wisconsin PFAS Action Council’s action plan.

The DNR has undertaken several measures to mitigate PFAS pollution, including establishing the Wisconsin PFAS Action Council (WisPAC) in 2020 and spearheading the creation of the statewide PFAS Action Plan. The plan includes 25 action items centered around three guiding principles: environmental justice, health equity and pollution prevention.

Well owners and area residents with questions about the DNR’s sampling of potable wells are encouraged to email DNRJCIPFAS@Wisconsin.gov or call 1-888-626-3244.

Learn more about PFAS contamination in the Marinette and Peshtigo area on the DNR’s Marinette and Peshtigo PFAS webpage.

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