PFAS Update: Governor Approves Two DNR Scope Statements Including New PFAS Standards

Earlier this month, Governor Tony Evers approved two scope statements from the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) that propose new regulations related to groundwater and drinking water. These statements are the first step in the rulemaking process that state agencies must use to create new regulations.

The first scope statement, SS 029-21, proposes changes to Chapter NR 140 of the Wisconsin Administrative Code, which regulates groundwater. According to the scope statement, “The objective of the proposed rule is to set numerical standards for consistent use in state regulatory programs to minimize the concentration of polluting substances in groundwater.”

The numerical standards that DNR proposes using as enforcement standards come from the Department of Health Services (DHS), which released its Cycle 11 Recommended Groundwater Standards late last year. DHS’ Cycle 11 includes recommended groundwater standards for 22 substances, including 12 per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and six pesticides. It also recommends combined standards for four PFAS.

The second scope statement, SS 030-21, proposes changes to Wisconsin Administrative Code Chapter NR 809, which regulates drinking water. According to the scope statement, the proposed rule is intended “to establish drinking water standards, referred to as Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCLs), for 12 [PFAS] and combined standards for 4 PFAS.” As with SS 029-21, the standards proposed by SS 030-21 are drawn from DHS’ Cycle 11 Recommended Groundwater Standards.

The governor approved both scope statements on March 4; that approval expires in September 2023. Before then, DNR must draft proposed rules, develop economic impact analyses, hold public hearings, and submit its proposed rules to the Legislature for review.

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