Clean Water for All
Everyone deserves clean drinking water. Hundreds of thousands of Wisconsinites face the threat of PFAS, lead, nitrate, and more. Climate change only exacerbates our current water quality challenges.
Take action today to protect the health of communities across our state.
PFAS: the dangerous forever chemicals threatening our health
We must work toward a PFAS solution that puts impacted people before corporate polluters and their allies.LEARN MORE
Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a group of highly toxic human-made chemicals resistant to heat, water, and oil. PFAS have been linked to a number of negative health effects, including: increased cholesterol levels, thyroid disease, high blood pressure, lower infant birth weight, decreased fertility in women, and decreased body response to vaccines.
Often referred to as “forever chemicals,” PFAS do not break down in the environment – and they are being discovered in communities around Wisconsin. Thanks to Gov. Evers, Wisconsin passed its first ever PFAS standards in 2022. But, there's still work to completely eliminate this harmful toxin from our waters.
Nitrate is the most common groundwater contaminant in Wisconsin. It enters our water largely from agricultural run-off that gets into our groundwater, lakes, and streams. Nitrate is linked to health effects including cancer, birth defects, even infant death. Nearly 100,000 homes in Wisconsin have wells contaminated with nitrate.
There is no safe amount of lead for a person to ingest. Lead usually enters our drinking water through the aged lead pipes, faucets, and other plumbing components that service our communities and that older and less-regulated homes and buildings can contain. Excessive lead ingestion can damage the brain, kidneys, nervous system, blood, and reproductive system. The effects of lead ingestion are particularly dangerous to young children and infants, which can permanently damage their mental and physical development.
In Wisconsin, more than 176,000 lead service lines are in operation today, and more than 80 communities have lead pipes in their systems. The percent of children with high blood-lead levels in Wisconsin exceeds the national average, hovering around five percent. Some communities, like Watertown and Milwaukee, have levels over eight percent, meaning one in twelve children have lead poisoning.
Manoomin (wild rice)
The Ojibwe and Menominee people depend on Manoomin (wild rice) for physical, cultural, and spiritual purposes. It is estimated that half of the wild rice that was once plentiful in northern Wisconsin has been lost.
Manoomin has historically ranged from the mouth of the Menomonee River in Southeastern Wisconsin, to Ashland on the shores of Lake Superior, and west to the Mississippi River. It is no longer able to grow and thrive in these areas as it once did because of increased water pollution, human activity, and changing temperatures from climate change.
This trend will only continue if the natural growing areas of Manoomin continue to warm. Plant disease and pests flourish under warm, wet, and humid conditions, and Northern Wisconsin is projected to be the area of Wisconsin most likely to see increased temperatures.
Testing your drinking water is crucial
Unlike municipal water systems, private well water testing is the homeowner’s responsibility. If you depend on a well for your water, it's essential to test it for toxins. If you're not ready to commit to a test use this well water map from UW-Stevens Point.
It can give you an idea of the water quality where you live. Unfortunately, 10 percent of homeowners test their water only every couple years while 30 percent test every 5-10 years, and the remaining test rarely or only once. Water quality changes constantly, it's wise to test at least once a year for nitrate and bacteria. Click below for a complete guide on well water testing.
“Nobody should have to worry if the water they're cooking with is toxic or fear where their children play is poisonous.”
advocate. entrepreneur. voter.
Cindy Boyle, Peshtigo
For the first time ever, Wisconsin will have PFAS-specific water standards to protect the health of Wisconsinites. Gov. Tony Evers demonstrated his leadership and dedication to the health of our communities when he began this process to bring drinking water standards to our state.
Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a group of highly toxic human-made chemicals resistant to heat, water, and oil. PFAS are linked to many negative health effects, including cancer, thyroid disease, and growth impairment. Often referred to as “forever chemicals,” PFAS do not break down in the environment and are being discovered in an increasing number of communities around Wisconsin. Prior to the adoption of these rules, there were no requirements for testing and cleaning up PFAS pollution.
Wisconsin Conservation Voters’ members and impacted community leaders have worked for more than two years to achieve the clean water protections guaranteed by the PFAS administrative rules. They volunteered hours, signed petitions, showed support at events, and testified at hearings to urge leaders to take this action. These PFAS standards could not have passed without their work.
With the passage of PFAS standards for drinking water this past spring, Wisconsin took a giant step forward in protecting your water from these highly toxic chemicals. Now, as those standards take effect and municipalities begin testing for PFAS in drinking water, we are beginning to see just how widespread the problem is, and how much more work we need to do to protect the health of Wisconsinites. Recently, the DNR launched an interactive tool with information about PFAS throughout Wisconsin.
The PFAS Interactive Data Viewer combines information from multiple sources into one tool to allow users to more easily understand what is known about PFAS in Wisconsin. The tool includes locations with known contamination, PFAS-related fish and game consumption advisories, and waterbodies sampled during monitoring.
Conservation voters laud first step in addressing PFAS
This evening, the Joint Finance Committee voted to allocate $125 million to a trust fund for PFAS, the harmful human-made chemicals...
Scores of conservation voters to gather in Madison for Conservation Lobby Day on Tuesday, April 25
MADISON, Wis – On Tuesday, April 25, scores of voters from across Wisconsin will gather in Madison to lobby their legislators on priority conservation issues. These issues are top concerns for the 40,000-plus members and supporters of WCV.
Thank you for taking action to to address the PFAS health crisis.
Help us continue to make a difference for our drinking water with a contribution today. Your support helps us keep fighting to ensure everyone who calls Wisconsin home has access to clean, safe water.