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PFAS Contamination in the Town of Stella

PFAS contamination has been detected in Town of Stella in Oneida County in private drinking water and groundwater. In addition to the information on this website, the Town of Stella has a website dedicated to providing information to the public.

SUBSCRIBE to updates about PFAS contamination in the Town of Stella.

SUBMIT a question, comment or concern about PFAS in the Town of Stella.

FIND a certified lab that can test drinking water for PFAS.

SEARCH a database for sites with reported PFAS contamination.


Public Meetings

Questions about PFAS contamination in the Town of Stella may be submitted by email to or by calling 1-888-626-0605.

Information about upcoming meetings will be posted here when available.

Public Meeting Date Time Location Information
Oneida County Public Health meeting - DNR Guest Speaker May 1, 2024 5:30 p.m. James Williams Middle School
915 Acacia Ln
Rhinelander, WI 54501

Meeting Notice

Presentation Slides

Town Meeting Aug. 15, 2023 5-6 p.m.

Town of Stella Town Hall
2496 CTH C
Rhinelander, WI 54501


Presentation Slides

Town Meeting Jan. 19, 2023 5-6:30 p.m.

Town of Stella Town Hall
2496 CTH C
Rhinelander, WI 54501

Town Board Meeting Dec. 13, 2022 5 p.m.

Town of Stella Town Hall
2496 CTH C
Rhinelander, WI 54501

Private Well Sampling

Private Well Sampling Update

In spring of 2024, the DNR expanded its private well sampling efforts in the Town of Stella to include additional private wells. Cost-free sampling is now available for all private drinking water wells within 3 miles of the Town of Stella town hall, including both seasonal and year-round wells. Eligible well owners in this area will be sent a letter with more information about how to sample their well for PFAS. Letters will be sent in batches to account for the laboratory's capacity to analyze samples. It is anticipated all eligible well owners will receive a letter by June 30, 2024.

Private Well Sampling

The DNR initiated private well sampling for PFAS after analytical results from a private well in the Town of Stella exceeded the Department of Health Services' (DHS) recommended health guidelines.

This private well was sampled for PFAS as part of a statewide study into determining PFAS prevalence in groundwater throughout Wisconsin. Since the initial sampling took place in July 2022, the DNR has offered cost-free PFAS sampling to all residences within 1 mile and full-time residences within 2.5 miles of the Town of Stella town hall.

As of March 28, 2024, the DNR has sampled 103 wells. Private well owners sampled an additional 31 wells and shared the results with the DNR. Of the 134 wells sampled for PFAS:

  • 56 private wells have reported concentrations of PFAS that are greater than DHS' recommended health guidelines and 54 Health Advisory Letters have been issued.
  • 37 private wells have reported detections for PFAS but are less that DHS' recommended health guidelines.
  • 41 private wells have no reported detections for PFAS.

Below is a map of PFAS sampling results for private wells in the Town of Stella/Starks.


  • Red circles indicate private well sampling results with PFAS concentrations above DHS' recommended health guidelines.
  • Yellow circles indicate private well sampling results where PFAS was detected but concentrations are below DHS' recommended health guidelines.
  • Blue circles indicate private well sampling results with no detected PFAS.
  • Circles with a black dot in the center indicate wells known to be drilled into granite bedrock.
  • Circles outside the 2.5-mile sampling area were submitted to the DNR by private well owners that sampled their well for PFAS.

Homeowners with PFAS levels in their private well above DHS' recommended health guidelines are eligible for in-home bottled water paid for by the DNR. The DNR will contact impacted homeowners to start the process of requesting temporary, emergency water.

Questions can be directed to or 1-888-626-0605.

Well Compensation Grant Program

The DNR will provide well owners in the Town of Stella with recommendations for a long-term solution that could potentially include replacing the well, installing treatment on the existing well or connecting to a known safe water source. Financial assistance may be available to private well owners through the Well Compensation Grant Program.

Please Note: Work completed before applying for a grant and receiving DNR approval will not be reimbursed.

Alternative Drinking Water

In September 2022, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) began issuing drinking water advisories to residences in the Town of Stella that had levels of PFAS above DHS' recommended enforcement standards or the cumulative risk hazard index.

The DNR can provide temporary emergency water to residences that have received a well-specific drinking water advisory from DHS. Temporary emergency water is delivered to affected residences in five-gallon jugs.

Residents who choose to receive temporary emergency water from the DNR need to complete an Agreement for Requesting Temporary Emergency Water. Paper copies of this agreement are available at the Town of Stella town hall. Completed agreement can be emailed to, submitted to the DNR's Rhinelander Service Center or mailed to:

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
Gwen Saliares
625 East County Road Y, STE. 700
Oshkosh, WI 54901

Those who are unable to lift five-gallon jugs should indicate on the agreement that they need a bottom-loading dispenser.

Empty jugs will be exchanged for full jugs at the next delivery and should not be discarded or recycled.



In the summer of 2022, the DNR's Bureau of Drinking Water and Groundwater launched a project designed to understand PFAS occurrence in Wisconsin's shallow groundwater by sampling 450 wells throughout the state. Wells were selected using a process designed to obtain an even geographic distribution of wells throughout the state. The project relied on the voluntary participation of the well owners and the DNR paid for costs to analyze the water samples.

PFAS Sampling in the Town of Stella

During this study, sample results from a private well in Town of Stella, Oneida County, indicated high levels of PFAS compounds in the water. Because of this result, the DNR, in consultation with the Department of Health Services (DHS), offered free PFAS sampling to nearby private well owners. This additional sampling provided the DNR with more information to understand the extent of contamination in the area and private well owners with information about the concentrations of PFAS compounds in their drinking water. This additional sampling found other drinking water wells with high levels of PFAS contamination.

Surface Water and Fish Sampling

In summer 2023, the DNR's Water Quality program sampled surface water sites near the towns of Starks and Stella, including the Moen Lake Chain, north branch of the Pelican River and the Wisconsin River near Rhinelander, for PFAS.

Sampling results found that several water bodies contained levels of PFOA and PFOS, two types of PFAS compounds, higher than Wisconsin's water quality standards. Water bodies with high PFOA and PFOS include Snowden Lake, Starks Creek, several lakes in the Moen Lake Chain (i.e., Second, Third, Fourth and Fifth lakes), Twin Lakes Creek, the Pelican River and the north branch of the Pelican River. This document provides a map of locations where water samples were collected and detailed sampling results for those locations. These results are also available on the PFAS Interactive Data Viewer.

Fish samples were also collected from Fifth Lake in the Moen Lake Chain. Based on the results, the DNR encourages everyone to follow fish consumption recommendations for the Moen Lake Chain. The results of these sampling efforts will be used to plan for additional sampling for PFAS in surface water and fish tissue.

Further investigation would be needed to determine PFAS sources in the area. However, the DNR is working closely with partners at the DHS and Oneida County Health Department to evaluate probable contaminant sources and communicate health risks to the public. More information on how best to protect people and pets from potential PFAS exposure is available on the DHS website.

Wastewater and Residual Solids

On July 25, 2023, the DNR sampled the residual solids removed during the wastewater treatment processes at the Ahlstrom Munksjo paper mill in Rhinelander. Sample results are presented in nanograms per gram (ng/g), or parts per billion. The mill historically landspread these solids on agricultural fields in the Town of Stella area since the 1980s or possibly earlier. The above results are indicative of current conditions and may not reflect past concentrations or loadings from the facility.

The DNR's interim strategy for management of PFAS-impacted wastewater residuals provides more information about landspreading of residual solids.

Additional Information

Additional information about the DNR’s work to understand and address PFAS in the Town of Stella is available on the Bureau of Remediation and Redevelopment Tracking System (BRRTs).

Health Information and Resources

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) is supporting the DNR in assessing human health risks associated with PFAS contamination in the Town of Stella, Oneida County, including providing recommendations to reduce those risks.

DHS has worked with the DNR to issue well-specific health advice for residents in this area. When levels of PFAS are above DHS' recommended groundwater standards, DHS has issued health advisories informing residents that they should use an alternative source of water for drinking and preparing foods that take up a lot of water (e.g., oatmeal, jello and rice).

For health-related questions, please email DHS at

Learn more about the health effects of various PFAS on the following websites.

Federal Coordination

The DNR is coordinating with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on potential options to address PFAS contamination in the Town of Stella. Current coordination efforts include sharing sampling results for private wells and surface waters, as well as information about historical land use in the area. With this information, the DNR and EPA will continue to collaborate on next steps and to identify potential resources the community and state may be able to access to address the contamination.