Wisconsin DNR launches PFAS testing requirement across the state

LA CROSSE (WKBT) — The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is launching a new requirement to track down cancer-causing forever chemicals across the state.

Cities with a population of over 50,000, including the City of La Crosse, will be required to test their water for PFAS beginning Nov. 1. In the city of La Crosse, that testing has already begun.

“Human beings are mostly composed of water. So everything that we ingest has a direct correlation on our health,” said Lee Donahue, supervisor for the Town of Campbell.

Water is life. But for those whose water is contaminated with PFAS, water can cause more problems than it solves.

“Consuming these chemicals over time at levels we suspect health-based effects can happen are detrimental to people’s health,” said Adam DeWeese, the public water supply section chief at Wisconsin’s DNR.

In hopes of tracking down PFAS levels across the state, the DNR has new testing requirement.

The tests look for dangerous levels of PFOA and PFOS.

“So if the system has any kind of water treatment, if they have filtration, disinfection, stuff like that; this sampling takes place after that,” DeWeese said. “If, through this sampling, we find out PFAS is a big problem, of course we will direct more resources to it.”

According to a DNR database, all eight of La Crosse’s running wells have been tested.

Each well had low contamination levels; none of them close to approaching a dangerous threshold.

The DNR testing requirement will eventually apply to smaller municipalities.

But for most of those who live in the town of Campbell, this is not a solution.

“Each resident has their own well. The new requirement is for municipal water systems, so usually those are associated with either villages or cities,” Donahue said.

For the rest of Wisconsin, the DNR says this is a step closer to more help.

For cities smaller than a population of 50,000 but bigger than 10,000, that testing will be required beginning Feb. 1.

For municipalities smaller than 10,000, that testing will be required on May 1.

A representative from the City of La Crosse tells News 8 Now that they did not test the wells that are currently shut down.

That includes the already-known contaminated wells located on French Island.