Earlier this year, the Wisconsin Natural Resources Board (NRB) approved state drinking water standards for perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perflourooctane sulfonate (PFOS) — the two most common chemicals known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). The state NRB standards precede federal PFAS standards the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will release next year.
Discussions continue among elected officials, environmental groups, water associations, industries and residents — all with competing views on regulating the chemicals in water and at what levels. As PFAS standards continue to evolve in Wisconsin, so will testing requirements for drinking water, surface water and wastewater.
Below, we describe state-approved PFAS limits and give an overview of cleaning up these harmful chemicals. Finally, we remind municipalities and developers to partner with an environmental expert when planning to remediate PFAS-contaminated water.
In Wisconsin, PFAS has been detected in drinking and surface waters near industrial sources, manufacturing use sites and spill locations. State authorities have revised PFAS standards to implement throughout Wisconsin later this year.
These standards are critical to protecting public and environmental health from the harmful effects of PFAS in Wisconsin. They represent a significant step forward to ensure all Wisconsinites have access to safe drinking and potable water.
As a precursor to PFAS remediation in drinking water, sampling at community water systems would start once the revised state standards go into effect. Sampling requirements for drinking water will be implemented in phases based on the population a water system serves.
If community water systems detect PFAS contamination, initial testing would happen quarterly. The DNR waives quarterly sampling when no traces of PFAS remain. Monitoring PFAS at these systems can then be reduced to every three or six years. If PFAS levels beyond standard limits are detected, water systems will be required to conduct more frequent testing.
Part of PFAS remediation may require water systems to abandon wells and drill new ones. If detected PFAS chemical levels require treatment, water systems must implement appropriate treatment methods immediately and notify customers about identified PFAS chemicals.
Further DNR requirements include testing discharges from wastewater treatment plants and industrial facilities to ensure they adhere to PFAS surface water standards. If cases exceed PFAS standards, the DNR will work with treatment plants to reduce PFAS levels in their effluents.
Municipalities benefit from the expertise of water and wastewater engineers who can devise monitoring and treatment methods to comply with PFAS standards in drinking water, surface water and wastewater.
At Fehr Graham, we understand the challenges water and wastewater systems and communities face to comply with PFAS limits and install effective PFAS remediation methods within budget. Our experienced team of water and wastewater engineers has completed some challenging and unique projects across the U.S. and helped communities devise cutting-edge and cost-effective treatment solutions. If you need to investigate or remediate PFAS contamination, we can help you successfully navigate the process.