Wisconsin Department of Health Services
Press Release

State Agencies Announce Additional Groundwater Quality Standard Recommendations

DHS has now completed review of 40 substances

By - Nov 6th, 2020 10:16 am

State health officials today provided groundwater quality standards recommendations for 22 substances to the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection (DATCP). These recommendations include 12 per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and 6 pesticides.

“These recommendations demonstrate our ongoing commitment to ensuring clean, safe drinking water for Wisconsin residents,” said DHS Deputy Secretary Julie Willems Van Dijk. “With this essential information in hand, we continue our vital work to protect this precious resource.

DNR provided a list of 40 substances for DHS to review in April 2019. Since this time, health officials extensively reviewed scientific literature about each substance, using federal quality standards as a starting point when available, and created a document describing the rationale for each enforcement standard. State law outlines a process that DHS and DNR follow, ensuring a scientifically rigorous review of available technical information and clarity on how recommended groundwater standards are selected. Due to limited availability of health information, DHS did not recommend standards for 18 of the substances.

When the recommendations are complete, the DNR will propose a rule(link is external) to update or create new standards based on these recommendations. Rulemaking is an extensive process that takes several years. During this time, there will be several opportunities for the public to comment on the proposed rule.

“With these recommendations, the DNR will continue to make progress on ensuring clean drinking water for all Wisconsinites,” said Darsi Foss, Environmental Management Division Administrator for the DNR. “We look forward to involving the public in the scientifically rigorous review of available technical information that will ensue within the rulemaking process.”

Wisconsin’s groundwater quality standards are used for regulating facilities, practices and activities that can affect groundwater. They apply to bottled water, approved agricultural chemicals, contamination site cleanup, regulation of solid waste landfills, and more. This is the 11th time that DNR has requested groundwater standards since Wisconsin’s groundwater law went into effect in the 1980s.

DATCP was another important contributor to the substance list, submitting several agricultural chemicals to DNR for review. DATCP will use resulting enforcement standards to guide its work in groundwater protection.

“We appreciate the opportunity to partner with DHS and DNR to help protect Wisconsin’s water resources,” said Sara Walling, Administrator of DATCP’s Division of Agricultural Resource Management. “The enforcement standards developed through this process will help guide our groundwater protection work with our state’s agricultural community moving forward.”

DHS continues to support DNR in their work to adopt the standards(link is external) that DHS recommended in June 2019. More information about the groundwater quality standard review and rulemaking process is available on the DHS website.

More about the PFAS Problem

Read more about PFAS Problem here

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