MON AM News: State regulators looking to combat groundwater contamination; Ag groups praising Pfaff announcement on proposed siting rules changes

— State regulators are looking at new ways to combat groundwater contamination in Wisconsin, focusing on nitrates as well as lesser-known PFAS.

“We are on the beginning of our scientific journey with PFAS,” said Darsi Foss, a division administrator for the DNR. “We know a lot about nitrates. We know a lot about geology and how nitrates move But PFAS we’re just learning about.”

At Friday’s H20 Policy Summit in Green Bay hosted by U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher and Rep. Joel Kitchens, Foss told attendees the CDC and other federal and state agencies are conducting studies across the country on the impacts of PFAS, or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances. 

These are present in a number of commercial products including firefighting foam and non-stick pan coatings and have been found in groundwater as well as public water systems.

Nitrates, on the other hand, accumulate naturally in groundwater when nitrogen combines with oxygen or ozone. Excess nitrogen can come from farming, septic systems and other sources. Both nitrates and PFAS have been linked to serious health problems in humans and animals.

“We are facing a number of water quality issues around the state,” DNR Secretary Preston Cole (pictured here) said. “Some of those include legacy contaminants affecting our Great Lakes, persistent contaminants like nitrates in wells, lead laterals contributing to elevated lead levels in homes, schools and daycares, and emerging contaminants like PFAS.”

In January, Gov. Tony Evers declared 2019 the “year of clean drinking water.” Cole says that was done not only to shed light on the problems surrounding water in the state but also to find solutions.

He noted the latest state budget funds two additional research scientists at DNR devoted to studying PFAS, as well as four new positions to help communities implement water quality improvement plans, and another four focused on concentrated animal feeding operations. He says those CAFO positions will help increase the number of farm inspections and improve responses to manure spills.

See more: 

— A coalition of agriculture groups is praising DATCP Secretary Brad Pfaff’s announcement that he won’t take proposed changes to livestock siting rules to the DATCP Board for consideration.

Still, while the ag groups wrote in a letter Friday they appreciate DATCP’s willingness to work with them, they “still strongly oppose the updated draft rule, and we ask the members of the DATCP Board to reject it in its current form.”

The proposed rule would set the standards local governments have to follow if they choose to require permits for new or expanding livestock operations. The ag groups say they’re concerned that proposed changes would make odor control the main factor in livestock siting decisions, calling it an “odd and unwarranted shift.” 

In the letter, the groups say the proposed rule would create significant challenges for concentrated animal feeding operations. 

The agency’s work on the rule was one of the reasons Fitzgerald’s office cited on Friday for Senate Republicans opposing Pfaff’s confirmation as DATCP secretary.

“Advancing the current version of the rule would have a chilling impact on production agriculture, and ultimately on our processors in Wisconsin,” the letter reads.

The 19 groups that signed onto the letter include: the Wisconsin Corn Growers Association, the Wisconsin Dairy Alliance, the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association, the Wisconsin Farm Bureau and the Wisconsin Pork Association. WMC and the Wisconsin Bankers Association also signed the letter.

Read the letter:

— Madison startup Curate has expanded its public data aggregator platform to cover all 50 U.S. states, more than doubling the number of states included in the database over the past four months. 

“We expect to see accelerating growth in our customer-base because of this expansion,” says Taralinda Willis, company co-founder and CEO. “Local data is the future of lobbying. This is a huge advantage for our customers.” 

The Curate platform provides automated weekly reports for customers on projects and decisions discussed at local government meetings. According to a release, the platform can offer insights from any municipality across the country, as long as it posts its agendas and minutes online. The company estimates that includes 80 percent of U.S. cities and towns. 

This latest expansion was supported by a $1.6 million investment round closed earlier this year. 

Curate’s technology relies on proprietary machine learning software, so it works better with more information. With data coming from more states than before, the system’s performance is expected to improve. 

“Every state is a little different in the words they use to talk about different topics, as well as how their reports are structured,” Willis said. “For example, in Louisiana, it’s not ‘counties,’ it’s ‘parishes.’ Having more variability helps our artificial intelligence models understand even more about these topics.”

See the release: 

Listen to a recent podcast with Willis: 

— Cellectar Biosciences has rolled out a new therapeutic product for precision drug delivery aimed at cancerous tumors, including colon cancer. 

Jarrod Longcor, the company’s chief business officer, recently presented data at the Molecular Targets and Cancer Therapeutics Conference in Boston. Study results show the company’s drug delivery product resulted in a greater reduction in tumor volume and improved survival than docetaxel, a chemotherapy drug. 

The product, known as a phospholipid drug conjugate, specifically targets cancerous cells for cancer therapy payloads. The PDC helps patients tolerate a much higher dose of the cancer therapy, with more than 20 times the maximum tolerated dose compared to the payload drug alone. 

The study results presented last week were focused on findings for colon cancer tumors, but the PDC product has also been shown to affect lung and breast cancers. 

“The ability to specifically deliver a variety of oncologic payloads to a broad range of tumor cells emphasizes the PDC technology’s unique and targeted treatment approach,” Longcor said in a release. “These results further demonstrate this and represent another important advancement in the development and validation of our PDC platform.”

Cellectar is a biopharmaceutical company with offices in Madison and New Jersey. 

See the release: 

— Jump River Electric Cooperative is getting a $11 million loan from the USDA to expand its grid and connect 461 new customers. 

The funds, announced Friday, are part of $1.4 billion in loans going to rural electric infrastructure projects in 21 states. A release from the agency shows the loan going to Ladysmith-based Jump River will support 133 miles worth of new or improved line. 

The cooperative has more than 9,000 members connected with nearly 1,800 miles of electric line. 

See the list of funded projects: 


# Milwaukee Tool’s new product line a validation of local investments, company president says

# Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald asks Gov. Tony Evers to withdraw his pick for ag secretary

# DNR raises concerns with environmental impact statement for bringing F-35 jets to Madison

# Snow means difficult harvest for farmers in southern Wisconsin



– Data provider Everstream sponsors Milwaukee streetcar over holidays


– October Class III milk price announced at $18.72

– Vote on ATCP 51 livestock rule changes put on hold


– Finalists named in UW-Stout chancellor search


– Lux Domes will return to Cafe Benelux this holiday season


– Wipfli acquires Naperville-based Klein Hall


– Bucks owner Marc Lasry leads $35M funding round for Silicon Valley media startup


– Trinity Lutheran drops lawsuit over 2018 church fire after insurer pays up


– Senate leader asks Gov. Tony Evers to withdraw agriculture secretary nomination

– Fitzgerald asks Evers to pull Pfaff’s nomination as ag secretary


– Three Boston Store buildings in Milwaukee area acquired through foreclosure

– Jeffers acquires downtown Journal Sentinel buildings

– Boston Store properties at Mayfair, Southridge Mall change hands after foreclosure


– Online sales-tax changes result in $77.4M in lost revenue


– WWBIC to launch accelerator for minority-owned businesses

– Palmer Johnson Power Systems in Sun Prairie expands rehab capabilities


– Everstream sponsoring free rides on The Hop for the holidays

– Milwaukee streetcar celebrates solid first year, but extensions still in limbo: Slideshow

– Milwaukee’s streetcar celebrates 1 year of service


– Alliant pledges to develop 1,000 MWs of solar energy by 2023


– Tom Still: Beyond biotech: Emerging Wisconsin companies become more diverse


<i>See these and other press releases: </i>

Curate: Expands database to cover all 50 states

FZE Manufacturing Solutions, LLC: named latest Made in Wisconsin® company