Wisconsin PFAS Action Council (WisPAC) Advisory Groups Meet

WisPAC Background

In accordance with Executive Order 40, issued by Gov. Tony Evers in August 2019, Wisconsin state agencies have convened the Wisconsin PFAS Action Council (WisPAC). The executive order directs the council to develop an action plan due to the governor and legislature by July 1.

WisPAC has convened two sub-advisory groups:

  1. Local Government group headed by
    -Lawrie Kobza, who represents Municipal Environmental Group (MEG) – Water Division.
    -Paul Kent, who represents MEG – Wastewater Division.
    -John Dickerson, Department of Revenue Division Administrator for State & Local Finance
  2. Citizens group, which includes industry and stakeholder groups, headed by
    -Lynn Morgan, who represents Waste Management
    -Ned Witte, an attorney from Milwaukee who has worked with DNR in their Brownfield Study Group and represents municipalities in environmental cleanup cases
    -A representative from the Department of Health Services


March 5 Sub-Group Meetings

The sub-advisory groups met on March 5 to recap their previous meetings and take more ideas from the public on what actions they will recommend for the WisPAC action plan. Ideas from the sub-advisory groups will be categorized into four areas:

  1. Under preventing future discharges, the citizens group ideas included considering a ban on PFAS and PFAS-containing products, providing agencies flexibility in legal resources to address emerging contaminants including but not limited to PFAS, and educating the public on how to prevent discharges. The local governments group also considered looking at the necessity and possible bans on PFAS, as well as transparency and labeling of products. Other ideas from the local government group included pollution prevention plans for private onsite wastewater treatment systems and solid waste facilities, model ordinances for municipalities on preventing PFAS intake from sources, and an industrial user survey.
  2. Under minimizing current exposure, the citizens group ideas included developing best management practices for handling PFAS, providing information to the public on PFAS-containing products, and expanding the state’s toxicology understanding of the chemicals. Ideas from the local government group included funding for local governments to inventory sources and address local PFAS issues and the development of best practices for treatment and disposal.
  3. Under addressing legacy exposure, the citizens group ideas included preventing uncertainty in brownfield redevelopment procedures, providing best practices for wastewater treatment and dewatering projects, identifying who is financially responsible for cleanup, identifying current sites, and addressing risk allocation for legacy contamination, specifically in the Voluntary Party Liability Exemption program. Ideas from the local governments group included funding for additional studies to identify contamination, expediting statewide cleanup standards, and funding for local governments to investigate and treat legacy contamination.
  4. Under education, the citizens group ideas included community engagement, access to easy to understand information, risk communication plans, and engagement of the full PFAS supply chain. Local governments emphasized educating the public on what different concentrations of PFAS mean in different media, responding accurately to misinformation, developing risk communication toolboxes for municipalities, and creating a state website on environmental and human health effects.

Other ideas recommended by the citizens group included petitioning the federal government to add PFAS to the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation & Liability Act (also known as Superfund) law, providing sustainable funding, and establishing lab testing methods. Commenters at the citizens group meeting also suggested addressing worker safety and facilitating voluntary reduction in PFAS use by manufacturers. The local governments group proposed additional funding to address persistent contamination, specifically through settlements with manufacturers.


WisPAC Next Steps

After the March 5 meetings, the full WisPAC state agency group will meet on March 19. Then, the local government and citizens sub-advisory groups will hold a joint meeting on April 2 before they submit their recommendations to the full WisPAC.