Wisconsin DNR Requests Wastewater Treatment Plants to Test for "Forever" Chemicals

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources asked wastewater treatment systems to test for contaminants known as "forever" chemicals.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources asked 125 municipal wastewater treatment systems, including Milwaukee's, to begin investigating for the presence of a group of chemical contaminants that pose health hazards to humans.

The agency is asking operators of treatment plans to trace potential sources of contamination from a suite of compounds that are coming under growing scrutiny, known as "forever" chemicals because of their ability to persist in the environment for long periods of time.

The facilities would sample and analyze water flowing in and out of their treatment systems for perfluorinated compounds, known as PFAS, according to the DNR. 

In all, the DNR is asking for wastewater operators to test for 34 compounds. If detected, utilities could work with industrial sources to pretreat the contaminants at their plants before they are discharged into the sanitary system. Another option would be for manufacturers to change their industrial processes to eliminate the chemicals.