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Northern Lake Service working to keep up with PFAS testing demand on top of other regulatory testing across the state

Katie Thoresen

RT Krueger is proud of the business his family started and grew in Crandon. He’s the president of Northern Lake Service which his father started in the 70s.

“They were beginning to do the comprehensive lake studies. He reviewed those plans for the DNR in Green Bay. It looked interesting so he drug his wife and three little kids up to the middle of nowhere and started a laboratory,” said Krueger.

On Wednesday, he showed what that laboratory has grown into to Governor Tony Evers, explaining how Northern Lake Service keeps busy.

“We’re still the only lab in the state, the only private lab, that has the certifications for it, for this PFAS testing,” said Krueger.

Not only are they regularly testing water samples throughout the state, but Northern Lake Service is also helping develop techniques for containments that aren’t currently regulated.

“These boxes right behind you, the majority of what we do is directly certified by the state of Wisconsin,” said Krueger pointing out a tall stack of boxes behind the Governor. “This is an EPA program called UCMR that is looking at currently unregulated containments. That’s where the PFAS reared its ugly head 10 years ago. So we’re involved in that program too. That kind of keeps us on the cutting edge. That’s developing techniques and technologies that are not out there.”

All of this has also meant Krueger and his team have been at the forefront of PFAS testing in Wisconsin.

As of this year, all municipalities are required to test their public drinking water supply for the man-made chemicals.

It’s a step Krueger has been advocating for for years, though he wishes the requirement had been spread out a bit more.

“This has all been jammed into one year. It’s an extensive workload on top of some of the other regulatory cycles that are really keeping us busy. It’s great to be busy. It would just be nice if busyness was spread out a little bit more,” said Krueger.

Governor Evers has proposed dedicating $106 million in the state budget to addressing PFAS issues in the state.

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have said action needs to be taken on PFAS.

Evers said testing and remediation need to be the top priorities.

“I don’t think we’ve even tipped the iceberg here as far as the number of places that have it. So it’s around testing,” said Evers.

Krueger’s biggest push has always been testing. Now that it’s moving forward he says he doesn’t have as many opinions on what comes next for things like regulating biosolids because that’s not where his knowledge base is.

“For the past three years, we’ve had a lot of opinions on the testing. What should happen, where, when, how. We’re at a point where a lot of that’s been initiated,” said Krueger. “Frankly, it’s been initiated in ways that we wish it had been done differently. But the fact is the part of the process we’re responsible for is up and running.”

Northern Lakes’ role is to tell people what’s in or not in their water supply.

What people, companies, and municipalities do with that information is up to them and the state or federal regulations. In the case of PFAS, a lot of regulations are still being developed.

As officials work that out, Krueger is confident that there will be more things that come up in the water supply that turns out isn’t good for us.

“We’re always going to be chasing these things. Something new will come out and there will be an outcry and there will be skepticism of what’s being done, but it’s the nature of a society that makes a lot of fancy chemicals. They work great for 50 years, they do just what we want, then we find out maybe they’re not so good for us,” said Krueger.

At the end of the day, Krueger wants people to know whether it’s PFAS or some other kind of contaminant, people like those on his team are always on the lookout.

 “We’ve got people doing this every single day. It’s not just us in the laboratory. It’s water professionals on the drinking water side, on the wastewater side. They’re working every single day to ensure public health,” said Krueger.

Katie Thoresen is WXPR's News Director/Vice President.
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