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Wisconsin NRB Green-Lights Additional Rulemaking to Establish PFAS Groundwater and Drinking Water Standards

The Wisconsin Natural Resources Board (NRB) has approved two Statements of Scope authorizing the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) to pursue rulemaking to establish groundwater and drinking water standards for 16 additional per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and groundwater standards for six pesticides.

In today’s meeting, the NRB approved a Statement of Scope for additional revisions to Chapter NR 140, Wisconsin’s groundwater quality standards as part of WDNR’s “Cycle 11” groundwater standards development. The Cycle 11 rulemaking began with standards recommended by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (WDHS). That agency recommended standards for six pesticides, 12 individual PFAS, and a combined standard for four PFAS compounds.

In the face of opposition from a broad range of industrial, business and local government interests, the NRB also approved a Statement of Scope for rulemaking to establish state drinking water standards (Maximum Contaminant Levels) for 12 individual PFAS and a combined standard for four PFAS. There are currently no federal MCLs for PFAS, though the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has determined it will begin the lengthy process of developing those MCLs for PFOA and PFOS. 

The Board previously approved Statements of Scope authorizing rulemaking to establish groundwater, surface water quality, and drinking water standards for two PFAS—PFOA and PFOS.

The NRB’s approval of a Statement of Scope is an early step in Wisconsin’s administrative rulemaking process, which will include additional opportunities for public review and comment on the proposed standards. 

Wednesday’s vote by the Natural Resources Board will allow the Department of Natural Resources to begin writing regulations to limit the amount of certain fluorinated compounds -- collectively known as PFAS -- allowed in ground and drinking water. The agency is already in the process of crafting numerical limits for two of the most studied PFAS compounds -- PFOA and PFOS -- based on recommendations from the Department of Health Services. The new regulations will address 16 additional PFAS compounds, as well as six pesticides, that DHS last year said pose a threat to public health.


agribusiness, fab, regulatory, environmental, energy, pfas