Madison Supports State Standards for PFAS
On February 23, the State Natural Resources Board will consider State standards for PFAS in drinking water and surface water. I again wrote a letter stating my support for these standards with input from the Madison Water Utility, which you can read below. Some Common Council members also signed onto a separate letter of support.
February 15, 2022
Laurie J. Ross, Natural Resources Board Liaison
Office of the Secretary, AD/8
Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
RE: Proposed Drinking Water Standards for PFAS (DG-24-19), and Proposed Surface Water Standards for PFAS (WY-23-19)
Dear Board Members,
I am writing to express my support for the proposed administrative rule to establish a science-based standard for PFAS in drinking water via DG-24-19, and surface water via WY-23-19. As you know, PFAS are a group of concerning chemicals with links to serious health impacts. They impact human health through their presence in drinking water and as they bioaccumulate in fish when present in surface water. Protecting public health is a critical role of the public sector, and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) plays an important role in protecting communities from pollution by setting standards. Setting the proposed drinking water and surface water standards for PFAS is appropriate and I support the State’s work to do so.
As a Mayor, I am fully aware that one of the most fundamental responsibilities of local government is to provide safe, reliable drinking water. Given the pervasive use of PFAS in our products, its persistence in the environment, and the serious associated health risks associated with it, monitoring and limiting PFAS in our drinking water systems is imperative. In Madison, we voluntarily tested our drinking water wells for PFAS, and we found PFAS in our samples. By understanding where we had elevated levels of PFAS, and where we did not, we could shut off a contaminated well and adjust our water supply to ensure we keep delivering safe drinking water to our residents. I am deeply grateful we had the information we needed to make the right choices. That’s what PFAS testing and standards provide – the information we all need to fulfill our responsibilities to our residents.
These rules propose Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCLs) consistent with recommendations from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services. I support the creation of health-based standards.
I also acknowledge the technical and cost challenges localities may face in addressing PFAS contamination found in drinking water. The best policy would be to require producers of PFAS containing products to take responsibility for remediation. Failing that, I strongly recommend the State continue its efforts to provide support to local governments in numerous ways. Specifically, local governments and water utilities need technical assistance and grants to implement treatment systems, and they need the DNR to continue its efforts to hold polluters accountable.
I urge the Natural Resource Board to support these standards.