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Wisconsin DNR secretary promotes tougher standards for PFAS, for home water supplies and outdoor recreation



La Crosse director of transit Adam Lorenz (middle) talks with state and federal leaders, including (left to right) DNR Sec. Preston Cole (standing), Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, Congressman Ron Kind, EPA administrator Michael Regan and La Crosse Mayor Mitch Reynolds, on one of the city's electric buses Wednesday, April 20, 2022. (PHOTO: Brad Williams)

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Cole is working with cities and towns around the state on plans for improving water treatment plants that may be outdated.

A native of Prairie du Chien, Brad graduated from UW - La Crosse and has worked in radio news for more than 30 years, mostly in the La Crosse area. He regularly covers local courts and city and county government. Brad produces the features "Yesterday in La Crosse" and "What's Buried on Brad's Desk." He also writes the website "Triviazoids," which finds odd connections between events that happen on a certain date, and he writes and performs with the local comedy group Heart of La Crosse. Brad been featured on several national TV programs because of his memory skills.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Nick Berry

    April 25, 2022 at 9:12 am

    What little the state is doing shows no regard for quality of life, Is immoral and I wish criminal.
    The state should be doing all they can to solve this problem. There is a huge state surplus.
    Any one blocking this should be removed from office.

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