The head of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources says ensuring clean water for the state is a “top of mind” priority for his agency.
Secretary Preston Cole is disappointed with a February vote by the state’s DNR policy board to raise the level of PFAS chemicals allowed in drinking water, above what the department wanted.
“We’re extraordinarily concerned that the Natural Resources Board had the opportunity to create standards, that we believe a 20 parts per trillion would be able to position Wisconsin in a way to be adaptive and work with communities to ensure clean water,” Cole said during a visit to La Crosse last week, when EPA administrator Michael Regan was in the city.
The DNR preferred a threshold of 20 parts per trillion of PFAS, but the board increased that to 70 parts, in part citing the cost it would take to bring those levels down.
Cole said reducing PFAS chemicals and other pollution would help Wisconsin in many ways, especially the tourist industry.
“Right now, communities and families are turning the pages, to where do we want to spend our summer vacation,” Cole said. “We know all too often they’re not gonna show up at locations where the water’s tainted by PFAS.”
Cole is working with cities and towns around the state on plans for improving water treatment plants that may be outdated.