Doesn't the government require utilities to test for PFAS?

Despite the threat to public health, there is currently no state or federal requirement to test all municipal drinking water supplies in Wisconsin.

 

Many Wisconsin municipalities have never tested their drinking water systems for the presence of PFAS chemicals. By reaching out to your local officials and asking them to test, you can play an important role in keeping your community safe.

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WHAT THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT IS DOING TO REGULATE PFAS

 

Enforcement Standards

There are not yet any enforceable federal standards for PFAS in drinking water, nor does the EPA currently require PFAS testing of drinking water. However, the EPA is is in the process of developing a proposed federal standard for PFOA and PFOS, which the agency anticipates finalizing by the end of 2023.

 

Health Advisory Levels

The EPA recently announced updated health advisory levels for certain PFAS compounds. According to the EPA, the safe level for PFOA and PFOS—two of the most widely studied compounds—is near zero.

WHAT WISCONSIN IS DOING TO REGULATE PFAS

 

Enforcement Standards

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has developed enforcement standards for certain PFAS compounds in drinking water and surface water, but not for groundwater. The new standards are set to take effect later this summer. This is a positive development, but it is only a partial step toward protecting public health. Here's why:

  • Wisconsin's enforcement standards are much less protective than federal health advisory levels and should be revised to align more closely with federal health-based recommendations.

  • The new standards for drinking water and surface water do not apply to groundwater. That means the two-thirds of Wisconsinites who obtain their drinking water from private wells are left unprotected.

 

Testing Requirements

According to the DNR, mandatory testing for water utilities will be phased in, with Wisconsin's largest communities being required to test as early as late 2022. In the meantime, all water utilities are encouraged to participate in the DNR's voluntary PFAS testing program. Given the known health risks associated with PFAS exposure, local municipalities should begin testing immediately to protect their constituents.

 

Federal funds are currently available to help communities pay for the cost of testing and remediation. If a community finds their drinking water supply is impacted by PFAS, the DNR and Department of Health Services will assist community leaders to leverage all resources available to protect the health of residents and address the contamination.