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Agency activities

GCC Report to the Legislature

State agencies and the University of Wisconsin System addressed numerous issues related to groundwater protection and management in FY 2020. Here are highlights and detailed discussions of the groundwater activities of each agency. 

Department of Natural Resources

Irrigation well sample.
Irrigation well sample. © DNR

Highlights

  • DNR received approval and began rulemaking for the NR 140 Cycle 10 list of 27 substances (including Perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS  and PFOA) began holding stakeholder meetings to gather input. The Cycle 11 list is being reviewed by DHS to possibly recommend NR 140 health-based groundwater standards which contains 34 PFAS compounds and six pesticides.
  • DNR is formulating a strategy to address PFAS in the State. This will include a request for voluntary sampling of influent and effluent by Wisconsin Pollution Discharge Elimination System (WPDES) permitted municipal wastewater treatment plants.

» Read more.

Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection

Irrigation.
Irrigation. © DATCP.

Highlights

  • Analyzed about 270 groundwater and 105 surface water samples for more than 100 pesticide compounds plus nitrate.
  • Provided cost-sharing for the installation and implementation of over 1,100 conservation practices. These practices provided soil erosion control and helped manage manure and nutrients.
  • Awarded over $180,000 in Nutrient Management Farmer Education grants.

» Read more.

Department of Health Services

DHS staff presenting about PFAS at a conference.
DHS staff presenting about PFAs at a
conference. © DHS.

Highlights

  • DHS toxicologists and public health educators started reviewing technical information of 40 substances on request from the DNR as part of the 11th cycle of recommended NR 140 groundwater quality standards. DHS also supported DNR’s rulemaking efforts for the 10th cycle of groundwater standards.
  • DHS toxicologists and health educators assessed the human health risk of PFAS exposure through multiple exposure pathways including groundwater, surface water, and biota such as fish consumption. The team has been providing technical assistance by reviewing private well water testing results and recommending proper actions to reduce or halt exposure to PFAS.

» Read more.

Wisconsin Geological & Natural History Survey

Sampling springs in Door County wetlands.
Sampling springs in Door County wetlands.
© Dave Hart, WGNHS.

Highlights

  • Investigating changes in nitrate concentrations in groundwater beneath agricultural fields and near the Village of Waupaca.
  • Conducting new geologic mapping in Bayfield, Dodge, Jefferson and Waushara counties and in Wisconsin's Driftless Area.
  • Investigating groundwater-surface water relationships in Wisconsin streams, lakes and wetlands.
  • Upgrading Wisconsin's statewide groundwater monitoring network.

» Read more.

Department of Transportation

Pre-Wetting Salt in 68 of 72 counties to prevent salt from bouncing off the pavement.
Pre-Wetting Salt in 68 of 72 counties to prevent
salt from bouncing off the pavement. © DOT.

Highlights

  • Less salt was used last winter season (204 million pounds) yielding cost savings ($8.2 Million).
  • Continue to research the effectiveness of brine chemicals and brine application rates for varying weather conditions in partnership with Clear Roads -(National Research Consortium) and the UW Traffic and Safety Laboratory (TOPS Lab).
  • Preliminary results of new brine application techniques are showing a significant reduction in overall salt use while maintaining clear roads and level of service for the traveling public.

» Read more.

University of Wisconsin System

Master Naturalist Volunteer providing water quality monitoring on a stream in Rock County. © UWS.
Master Naturalist Volunteer providing water
quality monitoring on a stream in Rock County.
© UWS.

Highlights

  • Supported three Water Resources Science-Policy postdoctoral fellows in partnership with DNR and DHS to work on state priority groundwater and surface water challenges, including the state’s lake level study and PFAS standards development.
  • Maintained the Wisconsin Water Library, providing access to more than 30,000 volumes of water-related information. Library staff also reached 8,102 K-12 students.
  • Curated an art exhibit that focused on the healing power of water.

» Read more.

 

Department of Safety and Professional Services

Installing a private on–site wastewater treatment system  (POWTS), or septic system.
Installing a private on–site wastewater treatment
system (POWTS), or septic system. © DSPS.

Highlights

  • The statewide private on-site wastewater treatment systems (POWTS) inventory was completed and all counties are operating a maintenance program for all POWTS in their jurisdiction.
  • Developed and began implementing a training program to train county inspection staff basic and advanced level POWTS plan review and inspector training.
  • Partnered with a technical college to offer and provide instruction for a 2.5-day class developed for prospective and current soil testers to properly identify and evaluate soil and site conditions for the placement of POWTS systems.

» Read more.

Federal Partners

State agencies collaborate with several key federal agency partners to work on Wisconsin groundwater issues, including:

Governor's Representative Report

Steve Diercks, the Governor's Representative to the GCC,  and his son Andy on their farm in Coloma
Steve Diercks, the Governor's Representative
to the GCC, and his son Andy on their farm in
Coloma. © WPVGA.

Highlights

  • Collaborating with multiple partners to improve the health and flow of the Little Plover River and the quality of life of the surrounding community.
  • Funding several applied research projects looking at nitrate concentrations in irrigation water as well as evaluating the performance of multiple potato varieties in low nitrogen environments. Research results will provide important information for growers to help them develop improved nutrient management programs.
  • The Wisconsin Potato & Vegetable Growers Association continues to collaborate with the UW and DNR on an initiative to recognize and reward water conservation.

» Read more.


Groundwater Coordinating Council