PFAS Information


Recent announcements from Wausau, Rib Mountain, Rothschild, Rhinelander in our region related to PFAS in drinking water have increased public awareness /concern for drinking water safety.  In Wisconsin, PFAS have been detected in drinking and surface water near sources of industrial use or manufacture and near spill locations.  The Village does not have risk factors consistent with other communities that have detected PFAS.

What is PFAS?

Poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are synthetic, organic compounds that have been manufactured for use in non-stick coatings, waterproof fabrics, firefighting foams, food packaging, and many other applications since the 1940s. PFAS are highly resistant to degradation and have been detected globally in water, sediment, and wildlife. This global distribution is of concern as PFAS have been demonstrated to have toxic effects on animals and because epidemiological studies have suggested probable links to several human health effects.

PFAS have been found in some drinking water supplies where PFAS releases have occurred in the environment. PFAS can be found in fire-fighting foams, stain repellants, nonstick cookware, waterproof clothing, food wrappers, and are used in many industrial processes. They do not break down in the environment and move easily into water. Exposure to high levels of PFAS for long periods of time have been associated with various health effects including increased cholesterol, decreased vaccine response, low birth weight, increased risk of thyroid disease, decreased fertility in woman and high blood pressure.

What are the regulations?

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has proposed rules include a water quality standard for PFOA (a PFAS compound) of public health significance is 20 ng/L (20 parts per trillion) in waters classified as public water supplies under NR 104, and 95 ng/L for other surface waters. While the DNR is moving to establish the water quality standards for PFAS, a regulation has not been issued at this time.  Additionally, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has established an advisory limit for PFOA at 70 ng/L (70 parts per trillion).

The Village will continue to monitor the rules process and will take steps to assure compliance once state standards are approved.

What is next?

Sampling for PFAS has not been completed in Marathon City at this time.  Prior to the announcements from Wausau and Rothschild, the Marathon City Water Utility had been proactively working with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources on implementing a voluntary testing of our municipal wells for PFAS.  The Marathon City Water Utility will pursue voluntary sampling of for PFAS in the Village municipal wells and the finished water from the water treatment facility.  These sampling activities will be completed under the recently announced 2022 Wisconsin PFAS Sampling Program.  The Marathon City Water Utility will publish testing timelines and results when information is available on the village website.

As a customer of the Marathon City Water Utility, there is no action you need to take at this time.

The Marathon City Water Utility is committed to providing quality safe drinking water to our community.  We will continue to work closely with the DNR, DHS, and Marathon County Health Department to maintain the quality of your water.

Specific health information regarding PFAS compounds with health advisory recommendations in WI can be found here: