Feb 19, 2020

More Than 100 Wisconsin Utilities Reject PFAS Testing Request

More than 100 Wisconsin utilities denied a request to test for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). 

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More than 100 utilities around Wisconsin declined to participate in a request to test wastewater for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), according to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

The DNR made the PFAS wastewater testing request last summer, requesting utilities including Appleton Wastewater Treatment Facility and NEW Water to run the tests. Both of these utilities declined, reported NBC 26.  

The DNR sent a letter on July 22 asking 125 wastewater treatment plants to test for contamination from PFAS.

So far, only five utilities have either tested for PFAS or agreed to participate in a study testing wastewater for PFAS, according to Jason Knutson, wastewater section chief for the DNR.

"PFAS are used quite ubiquitously throughout society, but they oftentimes stem from industrial sources as the highest magnitude sources of these compounds," said Knutson

Both Appleton’s wastewater treatment plant and NEW Water discharge treated water into the Fox River. NEW Water incinerates or landfills its biosolids, reported NBC26.

In 2019, Appleton plant’s biosolids were applied on more than a half-dozen northeast Wisconsin farm properties.  

Another component of DNR’s request is an effort to identify the potential sources of PFAS. NEW Water said the utility will work to minimize the sources of PFAS, according to a statement.

“Water protection is at the core of what we do at NEW Water, and we are committed to working with our partners at the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and others to find science-based solutions that minimize this pollutant at its sources,” said Executive Director of NEW Water, Tom Sigmund in the statement.

Marinette and Peshtigo have tested for PFAS. Eau Claire, Horicon, Peshtigo and Stevens Point agreed to participate in a study that will test for PFAS, according to the DNR.

PFAS contamination has been detected in the Marinette and Peshtigo area, according to the DNR. This likely occurred because fire-fighting foams were tested at the Fire Technology Center in Marinette. PFAS was also discharged to the sanitary sewer at JCI's Stanton Street Campus.

A system was installed to remove PFOS and PFOA from water in a channel at the Fire Technology Center.

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