2021 - 2022 LEGISLATURE
May 25, 2021 - Introduced by Senators Agard,
Pfaff, Smith, Roys, Larson,
Carpenter, Erpenbach, Wirch, L. Taylor, Johnson, Ringhand and Bewley,
cosponsored by Representatives
Baldeh, Hebl, Shankland, Shelton,
Billings, Sinicki, Neubauer, Hong, Snodgrass, Andraca, Conley, Considine,
Subeck, Brostoff, Pope, S. Rodriguez, Cabrera, Anderson, Emerson, Doyle,
Hesselbein, Drake, Vining, Vruwink, Bowen, Stubbs, Ohnstad, Spreitzer, B.
Meyers, Ortiz-Velez, Riemer, Milroy and Moore Omokunde. Referred to
Committee on Labor and Regulatory Reform.
1An Act to amend
20.370 (1) (mu), 281.61 (6) and 292.31 (1) (d) (intro.); and to
20.285 (1) (as), 20.370 (4) (az), 20.370 (4) (pr), 20.370 (4) (ps), 20.370 (6) 3
(ed), 20.370 (6) (ee), 25.17 (1) (kt), 25.461, 36.50, 160.07 (7), 160.15 (4), 227.139 4
(5), 281.15 (5m), 281.17 (8) (c), 281.79, 285.27 (2) (bm), 292.31 (1) (d) 1m., 292.31 5
(11), 292.66, 292.67, 292.74, 299.15 (2m), 299.48 (1) (am), 299.48 (1) (e), 299.48 6
(3d), 299.48 (3m) (c) and 299.485 of the statutes; relating to: regulating and
7addressing PFAS, providing an exemption from rule-making procedures,
8granting rule-making authority, and making an appropriation.
Analysis by the Legislative Reference Bureau
This bill makes various changes to existing programs, creates new programs
and standards, provides funding, and creates new positions to address
perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).
Groundwater standards for PFAS
Under current law, the Department of Natural Resources maintains a list of
substances that have a reasonable probability of entering the groundwater resources
of the state and that are shown to involve public health concerns. The Department
of Health Services recommends groundwater enforcement standards for substances
on this list, which DNR then proposes as DNR rules in its rule-making process.
The bill requires DNR to apply DHS's recommended groundwater enforcement
standard for any PFAS as an interim groundwater enforcement standard for all
facilities, practices, and activities that may affect groundwater and that are
regulated by certain state agencies, unless emergency or permanent rules that
establish an enforcement standard for those substances are in effect.
Drinking water standards for PFAS
The bill also requires DNR to apply DHS's recommended enforcement standard
for any PFAS as an interim maximum contaminant level for public water systems
and water suppliers. DNR must also require public water systems and water
suppliers to monitor for such PFAS in accordance with requirements under current
DNR rules. The bill also requires public water systems and water suppliers to use
certain specified treatment technologies as an interim best available technology to
treat PFAS for which DHS has recommended an enforcement standard. Public water
systems and water suppliers must also use laboratories certified to analyze drinking
water to conduct required testing, and must use the method detection limit for
Water quality criteria for PFAS
Under the federal Clean Water Act and under current state law, DNR is
required to set water quality standards for the waters of the state. Water quality
standards consist of designated uses for each of the waters of the state, water quality
criteria for those waters based on their designated use, and antidegradation
provisions that prohibit the degradation of existing uses. This bill requires DNR to
promulgate water quality criteria for any PFAS for which DHS has recommended a
groundwater enforcement standard.
Soil and sediment residual contamination levels for PFAS
Under current law, when a responsible party conducts a cleanup action to
address soil contamination, the cleanup must be designed and implemented to
restore the contaminated soil to certain designated residual contaminant levels or
performance standards. Under this bill, DNR must require responsible parties to
establish residual contaminant levels for the cleanup of contaminated soil and
sediment as a result of a discharge of any PFAS for which DHS has recommended
a groundwater enforcement standard.
Air emission standards and reporting requirements for PFAS
Under the bill, DNR must also establish air emission standards for any PFAS
for which DHS has recommended a groundwater enforcement standard, to provide
adequate protection for public health and welfare, taking into account energy,
economic, and environmental impacts and other costs related to the emission source.
The bill also requires DNR to consider any PFAS for which DHS has recommended
a groundwater enforcement standard to be an air contaminant and to require
reporting of any emission of those PFAS.
Rule-making exemptions for PFAS
Current law requires an agency to suspend working on a permanent rule if it
determines that the proposed rule may result in more than $10,000,000 in
implementation and compliance costs over any two-year period. The bill creates an
exemption from this requirement for any proposed DNR rule that establishes
acceptable levels and standards, performance standards, monitoring requirements,
or required response actions for any PFAS compound or group or class of PFAS in
groundwater, drinking water, surface water, air, soil, or sediment.
PFAS municipal grant program
The bill creates a municipal grant program, administered by DNR, to address
PFAS. Under the program, DNR must provide grants to cities, towns, villages,
counties, utility districts, lake protection districts, sewerage districts, and municipal
airports. DNR may award a grant only if the applicant tested or trained with a
PFAS-containing fire fighting foam in accordance with applicable state and federal
law, or if a third party tested or trained with PFAS-containing fire fighting foam
within the boundaries of the municipality; the applicant applied biosolids to land
under a water pollution permit issued by DNR; or PFAS are impacting the applicant's
drinking water supply or surface water or groundwater within the municipality and
the responsible party is unknown or is unwilling or unable to take the necessary
Under the bill, grants provided under this program may be used to investigate
potential PFAS impacts in order to reduce or eliminate environmental
contamination; treat or dispose of PFAS-containing fire fighting foam containers;
sample a private water supply within three miles of a site or facility known to contain
PFAS or to have caused a PFAS discharge; provide a temporary emergency water
supply, a water treatment system, or bulk water to replace water contaminated with
PFAS; conduct emergency, interim, or remedial actions to mitigate, treat, dispose of,
or remove PFAS contamination; remove or treat PFAS in public water systems in
areas where PFAS levels exceed the maximum contaminant level for PFAS in
drinking water or an enforcement standard for PFAS in groundwater or in areas
where the state has issued a health advisory for PFAS; or pay the costs of a mediator
to negotiate between municipalities for an alternate source of clean drinking water.
An applicant that receives a grant under this program must contribute
matching funds equal to at least 20 percent of the amount of the grant. The applicant
must apply for a grant on a form prescribed by DNR and must include any
information that DNR finds is necessary to determine the eligibility of the project,
identify the funding requested, determine the priority of the project, and calculate
the amount of a grant. In awarding grants under this program, DNR must consider
the applicant's demonstrated commitment to performing and completing eligible
activities, including the applicant's financial commitment and ability to successfully
administer grants; the degree to which the project will have a positive impact on
public health and the environment; and any other criteria that DNR finds necessary
to prioritize the funds available for awarding grants.
County PFAS well testing grant program
The bill also creates a grant program, under which DNR provides grants to
counties to provide sampling and testing services to private well owners to sample
and test for PFAS, nitrates, bacteria, and lead. The bill provides $2,000,000 per fiscal
year and creates one additional position at DNR for this purpose.
PFAS under the Safe Drinking Water Loan Program
Under current law, the Department of Administration and DNR administer the
Safe Drinking Water Loan Program (SDWLP), which provides financial assistance
from the environmental improvement program to municipalities, and to the private
owners of community water systems that serve municipalities, for projects that will
help the municipality comply with federal drinking water standards. DNR
establishes a funding priority list for SDWLP projects, and DOA allocates funding
for those projects.
The bill requires DNR, when ranking the priority of SDWLP projects, to rank
a project relating to PFAS in the same manner as if a maximum contaminant level
for PFAS had been attained or exceeded, if DHS has recommended an enforcement
standard for the type of PFAS involved in the project.
Mediator for municipalities seeking alternate water sources due to PFAS
The bill creates an option for DNR to appoint a neutral, third-party mediator
to help negotiate between municipalities and responsible parties when one
municipality needs to obtain an alternate water source or connect to a water source
within a different municipality as a result of PFAS contamination.
Under the bill, the mediator may assist the parties in coming to an agreement
or, if no agreement is reached, recommend a solution. The parties to the mediation
are responsible for the costs of mediation, as determined by the mediator. The
mediator may add additional parties to the negotiation if necessary, and DNR must
provide the mediator with technical assistance.
PFAS fire fighting foam regulation
The bill includes several provisions that were included in DNR emergency rule
2045 and partially suspended by the Joint Committee for Review of Administrative
Rules. Specifically, the bill:
1. Defines the term “foam” to include any material that contains PFAS that is
generated as a result of foam storage, containment, or treatment, including
treatment media, equipment used to clean up fire fighting foams, booms, filters,
infrastructure, or other debris.
2. Defines the term “treatment” in a way that requires the immobilization,
removal, or destruction of the contaminant.
3. Requires a person responsible for treatment of foam who uses a treatment
other than incineration or thermal destruction to monitor and sample any treated
wastewater for certain specific indicator parameters; requires treated wastewater
samples to be collected at least weekly during periods of discharge; and specifies
response actions that must be taken if the concentration of PFAS in a wastewater
sample exceeds a specified treatment indicator parameter action level.
4. Requires the notification to DNR that is required under current law to be
done according to ch. NR 706, Wis. Adm. Code.
PFAS in food packaging
The bill also prohibits, beginning January 1, 2025, the distribution, sale, or
offering for sale of any food packaging that contains intentionally added PFAS. A
violation of this requirement would be subject to the same penalty for general
environmental violations under current law, which is a civil forfeiture of between $10
and $5,000 for each violation.
Access to information on solid or hazardous waste
In addition, the bill requires a person who generates solid or hazardous waste
at a site or facility under investigation by DNR to provide DNR with access to
information relating to any transportation to or treatment, storage, or disposal at
another site, facility, or location.
Proof of financial responsibility for PFAS contamination
The bill also provides that DNR may, if it determines doing so is necessary to
protect human health or the environment, require a person who possesses or controls
or who causes the discharge of PFAS to provide proof of financial responsibility for
remediation and long-term care to address contamination by a potential discharge
of PFAS or environmental pollution that may be caused by a discharge of PFAS. This
financial responsibility requirement does not apply to a municipality, fire
department, fire district, water utility, wastewater utility, agricultural producer, or
Statewide PFAS biomonitoring studies
The bill requires DHS to conduct biomonitoring studies across the state to
assess PFAS exposure levels and better understand the factors that affect PFAS
levels in residents of different communities. As part of these studies, DHS must
survey participants, test blood samples for PFAS, and analyze the results. The bill
authorizes 5.0 additional FTE positions in DHS to conduct these studies and
provides $630,000 in annual funding for this purpose.
Longitudinal PFAS and human health study
The bill also requires the Division of Extension at the University of
Wisconsin-Madison to undertake a longitudinal human health study to assess the
possible human health effects of PFAS. As part of this study, the Division of
Extension must conduct an extensive, long-term health survey of participants, test
blood and urine samples for PFAS and for markers of health effects, and analyze the
results. The bill provides $1,000,000 in annual funding for this purpose. The bill also
requires the Division of Extension to make any data generated from the study
available to DHS.
Criteria for certifying labs for PFAS testing