Wis. DNR restarts effort to set bacteria standards in groundwater

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The state Department of Natural Resources has restarted efforts to set standards for bacteria in groundwater after conservatives on the agency’s policy board killed the attempt in February.

The Wisconsin State Journal reported that the board on Wednesday authorized a public hearing and comment period on a new rule-making process to set groundwater standards for E. coli bacteria.

DNR officials spent two-and-a-half years developing a package of rules setting groundwater standards for E. coli, PFAS chemicals and other pollutants but the board scrapped the package in February. The board’s conservative majority said then that federal regulators have yet to set standards for PFAS and they were concerned about the state getting out in front of them. They also said they were worried about the cost of compliance.

Board Chairman Greg Kazmierski said the DNR shouldn’t have lumped PFAS in with the other substances. He said the standards for them were "a victim of the process."

The board’s vote Wednesday gives the department until Sept. 21, 2024 to submit a new rule to the Legislature.