Department, Partners Tackle Safe Drinking Water Challenges
MADISON, Wis. – The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) recently published its 2022 Annual Drinking Water Report. The report shows that most public water systems met all the Safe Drinking Water Act regulations last year. This was accomplished while facing challenges from emerging contaminants, aging infrastructure and nitrate contamination in some wells.The report also shows that more than 99% of Wisconsin’s public water systems met all health-based contaminant standards.Wisconsin has more public drinking water systems than any state in the country –more than 11,000 systems. The success of the DNR Drinking Water and Groundwater Program depends on teamwork between many partners to effectively manage the quality and availability of drinking water resources. Throughout 2022, the DNR worked with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), county health officials, community-based organizations and public water system owners and operators.“This report demonstrates that the health of our drinking water resources is important to everyone and clearly connected to a healthy environment and economy,” said Steve Elmore, DNR Drinking Water and Groundwater Program Director. “The DNR’s collaboration with partners helped Wisconsin make strides in water resource equity.”People expect safe drinking water when they turn on their faucets, yet some marginalized and excluded communities face challenges like lead and other contaminants in their water. Environmental justice is a priority, and the DNR made changes to help communities most affected by negative outcomes. The department revised its funding criteria for safe drinking water projects to better identify communities in need and determine eligibility for principal forgiveness funding.In 2022, 57 communities received $34.9 million in principal forgiveness funding for private lead service line replacement. Replacing both the publicly and privately owned sections is critical to reducing exposure to lead in drinking water.The DNR also awarded more than $105 million in financial assistance to 31 communities through the Safe Drinking Water Loan Program, to help them make needed improvements to their drinking water infrastructure.The DNR made progress tackling PFAS contamination (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances). In 2022, the state established drinking water standards for two PFAS at 70 parts per trillion (individually or combined). In addition, the DNR sponsored a voluntary project to help municipal water systems statewide learn whether their water supplies contain PFAS. Almost a quarter of Wisconsin’s municipalities took advantage of the opportunity and participated in this project. Testing for and identifying contaminants is a key step in addressing the challenge.You can review the Annual Drinking Water Report on the DNR website or by calling 608-266-1054 to request a printed copy. A new interactive map displays communities that were awarded funding for projects through the Safe Drinking Water Loan Program and the Private Lead Service Line Replacement Program.More information about the work the DNR is doing to provide safe drinking water is available on the DNR website.