The Wisconsin Groundwater Coordinating Council shared key recommendations for protecting and preserving vital groundwater resources in its 2022 annual report to the Wisconsin State Legislature. The recommendations focus on setting new and revised health-based groundwater standards, evaluating, and addressing drinking water contamination from nitrates and PFAS chemicals. The key recommendations in the report address some of the most prevalent and pressing issues in Wisconsin water quality, including setting new and revised health-based groundwater standard recommendations received from DHS; Protecting groundwater from nitrate and other agricultural contaminants and; Addressing public health and environmental concerns from PFAS chemicals.
Areas of the state with a greater density of agriculture have a higher frequency of nitrate and pesticide detection. The report recommends supporting research assessing conservation plans that identify and encourage the use of alternate cropping and nutrient management practices that help prevent agricultural nitrogen from reaching groundwater. The council also recommends developing an outreach program to spur action on implementing these plans.
The report highlights the challenges of removing PFAS from groundwater. The Council recommends establishing PFAS groundwater enforcement standards to guide cleanup efforts and safeguard public health and continuing to identify PFAS sources and their potential affects to groundwater and the environment. The Groundwater Coordinating Council also supports the Wisconsin PFAS Action Council (WisPAC) in developing and coordinating statewide PFAS initiatives.
The 2022 report also highlights the need for increased support of applied groundwater research to protect and preserve our valuable groundwater resources. Wisconsin is recognized as a national leader in groundwater research because of the GCC’s well–established research funding process coordinated by the GCC. Increased funding could address emerging groundwater contaminant concerns, such as PFAS.