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Industry Updates: WWA Policy Watch

Wisconsin Water Policy Watch Volume 10 Issue 2

Thursday, February 13, 2020   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Michael Heyroth
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Volume 10 Issue 2 | February 13, 2020
Wisconsin Water Policy Watch
A Legislative and Regulatory Newsletter
Commissioner Huebsch resigns from PSC
Commissioner Mike Huebsch has resigned from the Public Service Commission one year before the end of his six-year term. Former Governor Scott Walker appointed Huebsch to the PSC on March 1, 2015.Hisresignationwas effective February 3.
The PSC is composed of three commissioners. Governor Scott Walker reappointed Commissioner Ellen Nowak, who formerly served as chair of the commission, in January, 2019 and Governor Tony Evers appointed the current PSC Chair Rebecca Cameron Valcq in March, 2019.
No word yet from the Governor’s Office on a successor.
Governor signs bill placing limits on firefighting foams containing PFAS
Bipartisan focus on PFAS has resulted in a new law,2019 Act 101, which places restrictions on the use of “Class B” aqueous film forming foams (AFFF).According to author Rep. John Nygren (R – Marinette), these foams are “one of the largest sources of PFAS contamination in our state.”
The new law bans the use of Class B foams with PFAS in training exercises, but allows them to be used in firefighting where they are particularly effective in fighting flammable liquid fires.It also allows testing of these foams, but only with proper containment, treatment and disposal measures as determined by the DNR.
Governor Tony Evers signed the bill into law on February 5 and the rulemaking process is expected to take 30 months once underway.Emergency rules will be in effect until permanent rules are in place.
DNR Survey.Following passage, DNRbegan conducting a surveyof Wisconsin fire departments to gather information about current practices regarding use and storage of PFAS-containing firefighting foams.According to the DNR press release, “the primary, immediate goal of the survey is to identify how much PFAS-containing foam concentrate is stored at fire departments around the state.This information will help inform a cost estimate of a potential statewide collection and disposal effort.”The DNR expects to release the results of the survey in early April.
If you have questions about the content of the survey, please contact DNR atDNRFireFightingFoamStudy@Wisconsin.govor 844-910-3659.
Bills would decrease exposure to lead in drinking water in child-centered facilities
The state legislature is looking at two bills that address lead in drinking water at facilities serving children.Senate Bill 424/Assembly Bill 475addresses lead contamination in drinking water at recreational and child care facilities andSenate Bill 423/Assembly Bill 476addresses drinking water contamination in schools.
The Senate passedSenate Bill 424on a voice vote on January 21 and messaged it to the Assembly for its consideration.
This bill would require licensed child care centers, child care providers, group homes, and recreational and educational camps to either test for lead in their drinking water sources or conduct a plumbing assessment to determine if lead is present in plumbing fixtures in order to obtain, renew, or keep a state license or certification.If a plumbing assessment finds no lead, the site would be exempt from testing.
If a site’s drinking water exceeds the federal action level established under the Safe Drinking Water Act, the facility would be required to provide alternative sources of drinking water either on a permanent basis or until the drinking water meets water quality standards. When a test meets the drinking water standard, future testing is not required.
The bill also directs state agencies to seek and disburse federal funds to assist the sites affected and authorizes the Board of Commissioners of Public Lands to use school trust funds to issue loans to municipalities for the purpose of lead remediation of drinking water sources in buildings used for these activities.
Senate Substitute Amendment 2 of Senate Bill 423is recommended for passage by theCommittee on Natural Resources and Energy.On January 22, it voted unanimously in favor of a revised version. The billrequires public schools, charter schools, private schools participating in a parental choice program or in the Special Needs Scholarship Program and child care programs established by school boards to test certain drinking water sources for lead contamination if children are “regularly present.”If a source is not tested and is accessible to pupils, it must be labeled as “not for drinking.”Tests must be conducted once every five years unless two tests conducted at least three years apart come out at 5ppb of lead or less.In that event, no additional testing is required.
Water sources are considered contaminated with lead if they test at or above 15ppb, the federal action level set by the Safe Drinking Water Act.Contaminated sources are required to be taken offline and, if necessary, replaced with clean water sources while a remediation plan, approved by the Department of Public Instruction, is implemented.A school district may call a special referendum to fund the plan.This bill also allows the Board of Commissioners of Public Lands to use school trust funds to issue loans to school districts, municipalities, technical college districts, and cooperative educational service agencies for remediating lead contamination.
Sites affected must follow EPA drinking water testing guidance, including testing protocols, posted online by certain state agencies until the Department of Health Services (DHS) creates guidance specific to Wisconsin.DHS has until July 1, 2023 to complete the guidance after it seeks public comment.State agencies are required to seek federal funding to assist schools with testing and remediation.
Both bills are authored by Senator Rob Cowles (R – Green Bay) and Representative Jeremy Thiesfeldt (R – Fond du Lac).
Wisconsin Capitol
Five bills on PFAS are making their way through the legislative process
A bill introduced by Senator Rob Cowles (R – Green Bay) and Representative Timothy Ramthun (R - Campbellsport) will soon get a vote on the floor of the Assembly.Senate Bill 717/Assembly Bill 792,would expand the clean sweep program to include certain firefighting foams containing PFAS, enabling entities that want to dispose of these foams to do so.The Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) would be empowered to contract with a third party for collection, storage or disposal.
SB717received a 5 - 0 vote in committee and is now ready to be scheduled for a floor vote.AB 792will get a floor vote in the Assembly on Tuesday, February 18. The bill gained the approval of the Joint Finance Committee on Wednesday.
Another bill introduced by Senator Dave Hansen (D – Green Bay) and Representative John Nygren (R- Marinette) would fund a number of measures being considered to address PFAS contamination in the state.
Senate Bill 772/Assembly Bill 843,whichpassed on a vote of 4 – 1 in theSenate Committee on Natural Resources and Energyon Tuesday, would require DNR to set and enforce groundwater, surface water, drinking water and air quality standards for PFAS, substances for which DHS has issued a public health recommendation (currently PFOA and PFOS). It would also authorize DNR to create emergency rules establishing groundwater standards and require DNR to establish criteria for certifying labs that test for PFAS.
The bill sets up a municipal grant program, which would, according to the Legislative Reference Bureau, “address PFAS contamination when the party responsible for the contamination is unknown, cannot be found, or is unable to pay for the activities funded under the grant…or to municipalities…under certain circumstances.”The grant could be used to test for contamination, treat or dispose of PFAS fire fighting foam containers, provide temporary emergency water supplies, and remediate PFAS contamination sites.Municipalities would provide matching funds or in-kind services in an amount equal to at least 20 percent of the grant.
The bill also addresses the utilization of PFAS by private parties, requiring them to prove they can take on the financial responsibility of remediating PFAS contamination should it occur and making them responsible for paying for the administration of blood tests to residents living in a potentially contaminated area. A new segregated fund called the PFAS action fund would be used to “collect all moneys received from settlement agreements in court actions, or proposed actions, resulting form PFAS contamination.”
This bill also calls for University of Wisconsin research into the elimination of PFAS in the environment, blood testing of individuals living near contaminated sites, and cancer cluster studies in certain municipalities.
Senate Bill 773/Assembly Bill 842, whichpassed on a vote of 4 – 1 in theSenate Committee on Natural Resources and Energyon Tuesday, appropriates funds primarily from DNR’s environmental fund, to implement the provisions ofSB 772/AB843.
Senate Bill 774was introduced by Senator Cowles and Petrowski on February 5 and a public hearing was held on February 7 in theCommittee on Natural Resources and Energy.This bill establishes “management zones” for PFAS and creates special requirements within those zones.It also prioritizes PFAS mitigation projects in the well compensation grant program, the safe drinking water loan program, and the clean water fund programs managed by DNR.It also requires DNR to establish an advisory committee “to assist in all PFAS-related actions” and the promulgation of permanent rules.
Management zones would be based on a positive reading for PFAS defined as 70 parts per trillion and encompass an area covering a one mile radius from the sampling point.After multiple sampling points generate a proposed management zone perimeter, DNR would hold a public hearing and finalize the zone.The bill requires DNR to set up a website for each management zone, establish emergency rules that would affect public water systems in the area including testing requirements, and report to the legislature on matters relating to the scope of the zone and test findings.
Senate Bill 775was introduced by Senator Cowles and Petrowski on February 5 and a public hearing was held on February 7 in theCommittee on Natural Resources and Energy.
This bill creates a municipal grant program for testing for PFAS and funds several positions and activities relating to PFAS.
DNR would award grants to municipalities located in “PFAS Management Zones” to help pay for required testing.$200,000 would be allocated in FY 2019-2020 for this, with $100,000 of it coming from an existing agricultural chemical cleanup fund.Another $150,000 would be allocated to DNR to pay for the sampling needed to be done to determine the perimeter of PFAS management zones. An additional $50,000 would be allocated for studying containment, remediation, and disposal of PFAS.The bill would also create a full-time PFAS Management Zone coordinator position that would expire after four and a half years and an additional staff person for other PFAS related tasks.The bill expands the well compensation program fund by $100,000 to handle PFAS contamination claims.
Wisconsin Capitol
PFAS action groups meet, Public Survey
on PFAS open
The Wisconsin PFAS Action Council (WisPAC) met on February 4 and again on February 12.The councilis concentrating on collecting input on PFAS from a broad audience and developing the work plans for its advisory groups.To that end, the council has developed anonline surveyabout PFAS to learn what the top public concerns are.The survey will remain open until midnight on February 21, 2020.More information is available on the DNR website.
The DNR stakeholder group on PFAS met for the first time on February 6.Agenda topics included an overview of the administrative rules process and a summary of each rule being considered related to PFAS surface water quality criteria, groundwater standards, and drinking water maximum contaminant levels. For more detailed information go online to theNR105,NR140, andNR809rule pages.
AWWA submits comments to the EPA on the Lead and Copper Rule Revision
AWWA has submitted lengthy comments on the proposed lead and copper rule to the EPA.
In a cover letter, G. Tracy Mehan, III, Executive Director of Government Affairs for AWWA, praises the agency for incorporating recommendations from the National Drinking Water Advisory Council and calls the proposal a “good foundation” for developing the final rule.
At the same time, the filing noted that the EPA “did not describe any significant new efforts by the Agency or Safe Drinking Water Act primacy agencies, or other federal agencies to support the proposed framework, so that water systems subject to the rule would be empowered to be successful.”
2019-2020 Legislative Session Watch List
Creates local government grants for private well testing. Expands eligibility for mitigation grants for well owners and renters.
Status:In Committee.
Establishes groundwater quality standards for perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS)
Status:Assembly Committee held hearing on April 4.
Contracts with a third party to provide a system for buying and selling water pollution credits.
Status:Senate passes amended version unanimously. Messaged to Assembly on May 15. Assembly Committee on Local Government votes for passage on October 16, 2019 with the same Senate amendment. Ready for a floor vote in the Assembly.
Creates an incentive for property owners to abate lead hazards in their
residential properties.
Status:In Committee.
Requires day cares, group homes and recreational camps to test drinking water sources as a condition of licensure.
Status:The Senate passes it on January 21 and messages it to the Assembly.
Requires K-12 schools receiving federal funds to test drinking water for lead contamination at least once every three years.
Status:Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Energy approves the substitute amendment version on a 5-0 vote on January 22.

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