(The Center Square) – Wisconsin’s Department of Natural Resources says PFAS contamination is in almost every corner of the state, but the agency says there’s also more than $100 million dollars to deal with it.
The DNR detailed the plan to deal with PFAS contamination in water supplies across the state at the Wisconsin counties association annual conference.
“Here in Wisconsin, we have over 1,000 public water supplies that have sampled for PFAS. There’s about 2,000 water supplies that are required to sample. They will complete that initial round of sampling this year so we’ll have a good indication of PFAS contamination in our public water supplies,” Jim Zellmer, with the DNR, told the association.
Wisconsin has been tracking PFAS pollution for years but hasn’t done much because up until this year there weren’t any official standards. That is changing and so is Wisconsin’s PFAS strategy.
“We have state and federal funding available…There’s a $125 million PFAS trust fund that was set up. The legislature is working right now on a bill that would direct the DNR on how that money is to be used. That money will mainly go to communities to help to address the PFAS.” Zellmer said. “So that’s really good news.”
There is also $200 million from the federal government coming to Wisconsin as well as $10 million in state money available for private well water replacement.
Zelmer says PFAS contamination is going to be one of the largest issues for local governments to deal with, because PFAS contamination is a problem across the state.
“If you go around the map starting in La Crosse we have French Island, that’s mainly due to an airport over in La Crosse that used a [firefighting foam] for training purposes. We have the Mississippi River and that’s primarily due, downstream, to the 3M facility in the Twin Cities in Minnesota. Eau Claire, another municipal airport that has been contaminated,” Zellmer said there is also PFAS contamination in Rhineland, and up by Lake Superior as well. “Marinette, that’s by far our largest groundwater contamination. That’s the JCI-Tyco plant where they have a fire training center.”
Wisconsin is not alone in dealing with PFAS contamination, but it is one of the most aggressive. Gov. Tony Evers and Attorney General Josh Kaul filed a lawsuit last year against 18 companies accused of polluting with PFAS chemicals.