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Area lawmakers seek exemption in Wisconsin law to help fight against PFAS



A recent law passed in Wisconsin may be getting in the way of efforts to prevent PFAS pollution in the state’s groundwater.

The law known as the REINS Act limits the DNR’s ability to set PFAS standards in water supplies, by setting a maximum cost for a remediation project at $10 million. La Crosse State Senator Brad Pfaff is sponsoring a bill that would make an exception for setting
PFAS standards.

FILE: Bottled water is being carried on French Island in 2021, to families with contaminated wells

“The legislation that Rep. Billings and I have introduced allows a one-time exemption, in order to establish a groundwater standard in the state that includes PFAS,” Pfaff tells WIZM News.

FILE – La Crosse County Board member Margaret Larson (left), Wisconsin state Sen. Brad Pfaff, and Campbell board member Lee Donahue spoke with reporters on Dec. 19, 2023 about finding clean water for Town of Campbell families. (photo: Brad Williams)

Pfaff says an evaluation of PFAS levels in groundwater might exceed the $10 million limit. His bill with Rep. Jill Billings is aimed specifically at regulating PFAS chemicals, found in large numbers of private wells near the La Crosse Airport, and traced to firefighting foam long used at the airport.

Pfaff says a study is ready to go. “The Department of Natural Resources has come back to the legislature and said, we’re ready to go to work here to help set the standard, ” he says, “but in order to implement it, we estimated it’s going to cost more that what the REINS Act permits us to spend.”

Pfaff says the DNR project would allow Wisconsin to have certain pollution standards in line with rules in other states, including Minnesota.

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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