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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Dane County mandates increased monitoring on PFAS contamination in local waterways

The Dane County Board passed a proposal last Thursday to obtain legal advice from the Dane County Corporation Counsel regarding how local governments can regulate PFAS usage and cleanup in order to limit contamination.

PFAS chemicals are toxic compounds that are linked to an increased risk of cancer. Nicknamed “forever chemicals,” PFAS compounds do not naturally decay and are difficult to remove from large waterways. The Dane County Regional Airport is believed to be the primary contributor of PFAS contamination due to the use of fluorinated firefighting foams containing PFAS in the past, according to the Wisconsin State Journal.

The resolution additionally aims to inform residents about local PFAS contamination by advising the county to work with Public Health Madison and Dane County to create an informational database available to the public. The website would contain information on PFAS testing as well as discussion of the chemical runoff from public meetings, a Dane County press release stated.

“Given the complexity of the situation, we need to make it as easy as possible for members of the community to stay informed about what is being discussed and decided as remediation takes place,” County Board Supervisor Yogesh Chawla (Dis. 6) said in the press release. “We also need to know what power the County Board has to keep our drinking water safe for our community.”

PFAS has also been found in area wells, stormwater discharge and local surface water. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has found significant levels of PFAS in Starkweather Creek, a watershed that begins near the airport and flows into Lake Monona, according to Public Health Madison and Dane County

The Dane County Board also supported a state bill on Thursday to mitigate PFAS contamination. The State Clear Act aims to establish testing, remediation and monitoring for PFAS through a municipal grant program.

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