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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 DNRStellaPFAS@wisconsin.gov or by calling 608-419-4108.

Information about upcoming meetings will be posted here when available.

Public Meeting Date Time Location Information
Town Board Meeting Jan. 19, 2023 5-6:30 p.m.

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

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

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

 
Private Well Sampling

The DNR sampled wells in the Town of Stella in Oneida County for PFAS. In the map below:

  • Red circles indicate private well sampling results with PFAS concentrations above DHS health guidelines.
  • Yellow circles indicate private well sampling results where PFAS was detected but concentrations are below DHS 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 the granite bedrock.
Stella Starks PFAS Sampling results (as of 1/9/2023)

As of Jan. 9, 2023, in the Town of Stella sampling area there were:

  • 58 properties that were offered sampling at no charge.
  • 35 properties that chose to sample their well. Of those:
    • 5 wells were “no detection” for any tested PFAS.
    • 6 wells that detected PFAS, but the levels were below DHS’ PFAS health guidance values.
    • 24 wells that had PFAS levels above DHS’ PFAS health guidance values.
American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA) 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 source. The information below can help determine if a well owner would qualify for an American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA) Well Compensation Grant. Any well owner that received a letter from the DNR or the Department of Health Services (DHS) advising them not to drink water from the well due to the level of PFAS in the water may be eligible if they meet the other requirements listed below.

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

STEP 1: DETERMINE IF YOUR INCOME IS ELIGIBLE

  • For a contaminated private water supply serving a residence, family income may not exceed $100,000 for the prior calendar year.
    • Annual Family Income is determined by the line on the previous year's WI State Income tax that reads, "This is your Wisconsin Income" on a jointly filed return. If you file as an individual, your single income will used to determine income eligibility.
  • For a contaminated non-community public system well, business income may not exceed $100,000 for the prior calendar year.
    • Annual Business Income is determined by the line on your previous year’s business/partnership WI State Income tax form that reads “This is Your Wisconsin Net Income” or “Income.”

If you have questions about your income eligibility, please contact Emily Mitchell at 608-673-0469.

STEP 2: WHO CAN APPLY FOR A GRANT

  • Landowner
  • Spouse of landowner
  • Dependent of landowner
  • Heir of landowner
  • Assignee or legal representative of landowner
  • Renter of land
  • Shared well owner of a private residential water supply
  • WI Business owner with a non-community well (e.g., churches, daycare centers, rural restaurants and other small businesses)

Local governments, school districts and state or federal agencies cannot apply.

What is a non-community public water system? A water system served by one or more wells that regularly serves water to at least 25 of the same people for over 6 months per year or serves a transient population of at least 25 people for 60 days of the year. This may include day care centers, factories, churches, seasonal campgrounds, gas stations, restaurants, motels, public restrooms and taverns.

Alternative Drinking Water

In September 2022, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) began issuing drinking water advisories for PFAS to residences in the Town of Stella. These advisories were issued for private wells with sampling results above the DHS recommended enforcement standards and/or the cumulative risk hazard index for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). The individual advisories allow the DNR to provide temporary emergency water to the affected residents.

The DNR will contact residents with affected private water supplies and will provide the option for DNR-provided bottled water to be delivered in five-gallon jugs to those residents' homes. Residents need to sign up for this service through the DNR by filling out an agreement with the state to begin receiving water.

Agreements will be provided to affected residents at public meetings, can be found in paper form at the Town of Stella town hall, or can be downloaded here: Agreement for Requesting Temporary Emergency Water. Completed agreements can be emailed to DNRStellaPFAS@wisconsin.gov, returned to the DNR Rhinelander Service Center or mailed to:

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

Be sure to indicate on the agreement if you need a bottom-loading dispenser. Bottom-loading dispensers are generally provided to those unable to lift five-gallon jugs.

Residents receiving bottled-water delivery service from DNR are reminded to exchange empty jugs for full jugs at their next delivery. Please do not discard or recycle your empty five-gallon jugs.

Investigations

Background

In the summer of 2022, the DNR’s Bureau of Drinking Water and Groundwater launched a project designed to understand PFAS occurrence in the shallow groundwater of Wisconsin 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 costs to analyze the samples were paid for by the DNR.

PFAS Sampling in the Town of Stella

During this study, sample results from a well in Town of Stella in Oneida County indicated high levels of PFAS compounds. Because of this result, the DNR, in consultation with the Department of Health Services (DHS), offered free PFAS sampling to nearby private well owners to provide them with information about the concentrations of PFAS compounds in their drinking water and better understand the extent of contamination in the area. This additional sampling found other drinking water wells with high levels of PFAS contamination. The DNR has offered PFAS sampling to a total of 58 private well owners in this area. Of the 35 wells that were sampled, 24 have PFAS concentrations above DHS’ recommendations for consumption. DHS contacted each well owner directly to issue a well-specific advisory that recommended using alternative water for drinking and preparing some foods. The DNR is planning to offer further sampling in this area based on the locations of wells. This sampling will be free for well owners. Eligible residents will be contacted directly in February 2023.

Health Information and Resources

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) is supporting the DNR in assessing human health risks associated with the PFAS contamination in the Town of Stella in 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 DHSEnvHealth@dhs.wisconsin.gov.

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