DNR releases tool to understand PFAS contamination in Wisconsin on anniversary of Clean Water Act
Governor Tony Evers, together with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR), launched the PFAS Interactive Data Viewer on October 18, a new tool to understand how polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are impacting Wisconsin’s lands and waters.
The PFAS Interactive Data Viewer is an interactive mapping tool that combines multiple types of data into one resource and shows where PFAS have been found in Wisconsin. The development came as the state recognized the 50th anniversary of the federal Clean Water Act.
Governor Evers and the DNR said that the state would start collecting and disposing of at least 25,000 gallons of PFAS-containing firefighting foam waste from fire departments throughout Wisconsin.
“The more information we can gather about how PFAS are affecting communities and individuals across the state, the better we can work together to get resources out to folks in these impacted areas,” said Governor Evers. “With the unprecedented funding flowing into our state from the federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and with the investments we’ve been able to make at the state level, there are more resources than ever to help communities address these issues, including this new mapping tool, which contains incredibly valuable information to help advance our fight to address PFAS contamination in Wisconsin.”
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 spills of PFAS-containing chemicals, discharges of PFAS-containing wastewater to treatment plants, and certain types of firefighting foams.
In 2019, Gov. Evers declared it the Year of Clean Drinking Water and signed Executive Order #40, committing to address the issue of PFAS contamination in Wisconsin. The interactive viewer is part of ongoing work across state agencies to get more information about PFAS into the hands of the public.
As a result of the investments Governor Evers has made in monitoring, standard setting, and collaboration with local water utilities, this tool has a significant amount of information available that has been collected across DNR’s data systems, including locations with known contamination, PFAS-related fish and game consumption advisories, and bodies of water sampled during routine or targeted monitoring.
Among some of the newest data included in the viewer are the results from this year’s voluntary municipal drinking water system sampling program. Since Governor Evers announced the launch of the program in February, nearly 150 municipal drinking water systems serving more than 1.7 million people have opted into the program to identify whether PFAS were impacting their community’s drinking water.
Through Executive Order #40, Gov. Evers also established the Wisconsin PFAS Action Council (WisPAC), which recommended development of the PFAS Interactive Data Viewer in the PFAS Action Plan, released in 2020. They also recommended development of a statewide PFAS-containing firefighting foam waste collection and disposal program, such as the one that launched yesterday, which was funded in the 2021-23 biennial budget signed by Gov. Evers.
Updates on both the Interactive Data Viewer and the PFAS-containing firefighting foam waste collection and disposal program were featured in WisPAC’s PFAS Action Plan Progress Report, which was released earlier this year.