DNR unveils map of PFAS contamination in Wisconsin, some communities grapple with tainted drinking water
Concerns about and cases of PFAS contamination seem to be increasing by the minute throughout the country.
Against that backdrop, the Wisconsin DNR unveiled an interactive tool that lays out locations throughout the state that are impacted by the chemicals grouped under the umbrella term PFAS.
At a briefing Tuesday, Jesse Papez, with the DNR’s GIS data section, demoed the user-friendly tool. It’s found on the DNR website.
With a few clicks, you’ll see where PFAS sampling or cleanups are happening. The tool also shows waters in which fish consumption advisories are in effect because of contamination from the "forever chemicals."
“Each orange block shown here with a black center is a different PFAS site. Zooming on a site with the number indicated on the map will reveal multiple sites,” Papez said. “You can even enter an address or a layered key word in the upper right corner to get to a location more quickly.”
Field operations director of DNR’s drinking and groundwater program Kyle Burton said that as new findings are gathered, they will automatically be added to the tool. For example, “All municipal water systems will be sampling for PFAS in the next year, so as systems start to sample over the next year, their results will be pulled into this viewer. People can monitor it that way,” Burton said.
While the agency promotes its new tool, and more sampling is on the horizon, environmental watchdog groups worry Wisconsin is not doing enough to protect residents from health impacts associated with PFAS.
Last August, the state’s drinking water rule folded in conservative limits of 70 parts per trillion for only two of a multitude of PFAS found in the environment.
In the meantime, communities where PFAS have been found in drinking water are grappling with public health concerns.
This week the Town of Peshtigo in northeastern Wisconsin announced it is commencing litigation against companies responsible for— the town chair wrote—“our water, our safety and ultimately our peace of mind.”
Those companies include Tyco. Its firefighting training facility is upstream from impacted private wells. For years, PFAS was a common ingredient of the foam.
Earlier this month, a peer-reviewed study published in Environmental Science & Technology Letters estimated that there are 57,000 sites contaminated with PFAS around the country. More than 1300 are in Wisconsin.