What We're Doing

The District takes community concerns about PFAS seriously and is taking action. In the absence of clear state and federal guidance and regulations, we have developed an action plan that builds on the District’s historical success in managing emerging compounds for which treatment is not presently feasible.

The scientific understanding of PFAS in wastewater and biosolids continues to evolve. So the District can respond in an appropriate and cost-effective way, our action plan includes sampling and analysis, as well as a study of how PFAS may move into, out of and through our system. 

Given the lack of treatment options available to wastewater treatment plants, source reduction and elimination are the best ways to keep PFAS out of our water, air and soil. The District will work with our industrial permittees, commercial businesses, the public and others to educate them on the issue and identify opportunities for improvement.

We look forward to ongoing dialog about our PFAS work and sharing the results of our efforts. By gathering data specific to our community and integrating up-to-date scientific research, our decision-making will be guided by facts and based on the best available science to ensure we do what’s best for public health and the environment.

Here’s a closer look at what we’re doing.

A father and his young son play in a stream with a net

PFAS Sampling & Analysis

The District has a comprehensive sampling and analysis plan for PFAS in the District’s wastewater and biosolids.

Why Sampling & analysis is important
In order for the District to make fact-based decisions guided by science, we first need data to understand if PFAS are present in our system. The sampling and analysis results will provide a baseline understanding of conditions and be used to determine what next steps are needed, if any, for the District to address PFAS.
Why is Certification important?
Utilizing a laboratory certified for PFAS analysis in Wisconsin ensures that the District and all other wastewater treatment facilities in Wisconsin receive results that are standardized, reliable, comparable, and align with the State’s established testing requirements.
Will you make Sampling Results Public?

Yes. We have provided sampling results on this website; see the Results page.

PFAS Fate and Transport Review

PFAS are ubiquitous and resistant to degradation in the environment, and because of this, PFAS can cycle through the environment, including through wastewater treatment plants and to receiving streams and fields receiving biosolids.

Why this Review is important

The PFAS fate & transport review synthesizes the current state-of-science on the fate and transport of PFAS in the environment, within wastewater treatment plants, and on the application of biosolids to agricultural fields. The review focused on peer-reviewed scientific papers, regulatory guidance documents, and fact sheets developed by professional organizations. A conceptual site model was also prepared as part of this review and visually conveys the general fate and transport concepts for PFAS with a focus on wastewater treatment plants.

What does this review tell us?
PFAS are frequently detected in waste streams, including those sent to municipal wastewater treatment plants. PFAS are not biologically or chemically destroyed in current municipal wastewater treatment systems, and as a result, PFAS can pass through into effluent, including biosolids. Although, PFAS are expected to be detectable in the wastes sent to the District’s Nine Springs Plant, the levels are anticipated to be low because significant, highly concentrated industrial sources of PFAS are not present in the District’s service area.
What does this review recommend?

The District’s environmental consultant, TRC Environmental Corporation, recommended sampling and analysis of wastes for PFAS, and if present, implementing source reduction measures.

Working with local businesses

We are working with our industrial permitees and other businesses to help them better understand PFAS, identify whether its in their products or processes, and suggest options for reduction or substitution.

Why this work is important

Because municipal wastewater treatment plants cannot cost-effectively remove PFAS through treatment within their facilities, source reduction is the best solution currently available to reduce PFAS in liquid effluent and biosolids. Individual industries or users or PFAS can reduce the PFAS in their wastewater through industrial pretreatment or product substitutions.

Will source reduction work?

Yes! When the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) required source reduction at confirmed PFAS sources, it led to substantial drops in concentrations (99% in some cases) of PFAS in discharge from municipal wastewater treatment plants.

Additional Information

For additional information about what the District is doing to address PFAS, check out the information below.

District PFAS Action Plan

The District's initial look at PFAS, including action steps. June 2019

Fate & Transport Review

A look at how PFAS move through the environment and cycles through wastewater treatments plants and their effluent. Produced by District consultant, TRC, February 2020.

Sampling & Analysis Blueprint

Guidance and procedures for conducting a comprehensive PFAS sampling plan that includes District influent, effluent, biosolids and more. Produced by District consultant TRC, February 2020.

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