PFAS Update: DNR Stakeholder Group for PFAS Rules Meets, Firefighting Foam Emergency Rulemaking

On Thursday, August 27, the DNR Stakeholder Group for PFAS rules met virtually to focus on the rule-making for PFAS Surface Water criteria in NR 105.  The agenda included a recap of previous meetings and a discussion on how DNR intends to identify the economic impact of the developing standard. DNR reiterated their overall approach “used to calculate water quality standards using the formula in NR 105, including the calculated range of potential values for PFOS and PFOA.”

During the meeting, DNR asked interested parties to recommended approaches to implementing the criteria explained and offer alternative or additional ways to minimize PFAS in surface water. DNR also wanted to hear stakeholder opinions on:

  • How to calculate costs of compliance most accurately with PFOS/PFOA criteria. (DNR has data on Michigan’s experience with effluent levels, treatment costs and source reduction, but similar information for Wisconsin permittees is very limited).
  • A statewide (multi-discharger) variance.
  • Developing guidance to implement the existing narrative standard for “no toxics in toxic amounts.”
  • A technology-based effluent guideline for industrial sources.

Stakeholder speakers during the meeting included:

Steven Risotto, American Chemistry Council

Doug Oitzinger, Save Our Water

Paul Kent, Municipal Environmental Group

Carly Michiels, Clean Wisconsin

Patrick Stevens, Wisconsin Paper Council

Giffe Johnson, Philip Pagoria, and Paul Wiegand, NCASI

Jim Baumann, Wisconsin’s Green Fire

Like previous meetings, stakeholders were sometimes at odds with each other. This fall the DNR will be soliciting information from stakeholders on the economic impact, and as the rule development continues there will be other opportunities for additional engagement.

Next steps after DNR Board Delayed Emergency Rule for Firefighting Foam:

Earlier this year, the legislature approved and the governor signed into law 2019 Wisconsin Act 101, legislation that regulates firefighting foam that contains PFAS.  Act 101 went into effect earlier this month on September 1st.  The Act gave DNR the authority to promulgate rules to implement and administer the act. It also required the DNR to promulgate emergency rules no later than September 1, 2020, to coincide with the bill’s implementation date.

DNR shared final emergency rule language (WA-06-20(E) shortly before the DNR Board’s August meeting where they were scheduled to approve the rule.  This process was delayed after concerns identified by the Water Quality Coalition with the emergency rule language. The Board decided to postpone their vote until these concerns were discussed and potentially addressed.

After discussions, DNR plans to have amended emergency rule language soon and hold an informal public listening session on September 15th at 1:30 PM via virtual meeting. It is expected that the revised emergency rule will be presented to the Natural Resources Board at their October 28 meeting for approval.