These “Information Pages” are to provide suggestions for some additional information on certain subjects referenced in First Weber’s Notice to Buyers & Sellers and in other materials. First Weber advises that all parties research issues that are material to them. The information on these pages is no substitute for your own independent research and does not necessarily apply to your specific transaction or situation. Of course, the information referenced here, or the sources of possible information cited here, do not cover all potential issues of interest to buyers and sellers of real estate. Nor can or do we guarantee that the information or sources are fully accurate or complete; but hopefully this may provide some assistance in your own research if the issues addressed are of interest or importance to you. All parties are advised to independently verify any information material to each of them in a real estate transaction and to directly contact the relevant authorities they may locate relevant to any given matter. This applies to both buyers and sellers who may have questions.

LEAD IN PIPES and SERVICE LINES

Lead can have serious health consequences. Lead used to be used in water pipes and in municipal mains and service lines. It has not been used for decades, but remains in some housing stock and in certain private and municipal water distribution systems throughout Wisconsin. Some communities had more lead pipes used than others and some communities have more information about this than others. To learn more about lead in drinking water and in pipes, mains, and service lines in a given community, you are advised to contact the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and the local municipality. There are also many other sources of information online and otherwise available.

Some sources include:

Below is a map showing general concentrations of lead piping and various Wisconsin counties. We recommend that you contact the DNR and the specific community officials with questions.

Dangerous lead pipes abundant in Wisconsin

Below is a diagram showing, roughly, the typical lateral service line and the respective ownership, between private and public, in the distribution system. There may be certain grants available to be applied toward replacement of lead pipes and service lines, depending upon the community and the situation. Some communities have also replaced public and private service lines together, because there can be an increase in lead exposure if the lines are only partly replaced.

Diagram of lateral service line ownership

Source: Web Report, “Controlling Lead in Drinking Water,” Water Research Foundation/American Water Works Association, 2015.

Below are the websites of some communities or local utilities in areas that have posted information about lead in the area pipes and service lines. The list below is not exhaustive, or necessarily updated. We recommend that you check directly with each individual community you may be considering to see what information it may have or if they can direct you to for further information.

EMERALD ASH BORER

The natural features in and around our properties, and in our landscaping, are important to all of us. Unfortunately, from time to time, there are threats to certain features, including pest and disease issues. First Weber recommends that if you are a home owner or buying a home that you research the condition of the natural environment in your community.

One threat that has spread over the past few years has been Emerald Ash Borer. There is a great deal of information online from private and public sources. For example, you may consider contacting the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and/or the Wisconsin Department of Trace & Consumer Protection, and you should also consider contacting local county and municipal officials in each area of interest to you. See, for example:

For individual counties and communities, it is recommended that you contact the specific municipalities you may be interested in, as well as the County UW-Extension office in each area.

CONCENTRATED ANIMAL FEEDING OPERATIONS

Wisconsin’s agriculture businesses contribute nearly $60 billion to our state economy. The size and structure of Wisconsin agriculture, both cropland and livestock, has changed enormously in the past few decades. In the past few decades Wisconsin, like all states in this area, has seen the development of larger, consolidated operations, particularly in livestock and dairy operations. This includes creation of many larger, concentrated operations known as “concentrated animal feeding operations” or CAFOs. CAFOs has been defined as those operations that have 1,000 animals or more, or certain smaller operations that may risk pollutant discharge into navigable waters or wells. Wisconsin agricultural operations are subject to governmental regulation and various permitting requirements. Primary responsibility for regulation and permitting of CAFOs in Wisconsin is handled by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR). These regulations address potential issues such as risk of pollutant discharge from manure and runoff. The water quality protection regulations and permits are intended to ensure farms use proper planning, nutrient management, and structures and systems construction to protect Wisconsin waters. Below is a map from the DNR website of WPDES (Wisconsin Pollutant Discharge Elimination System) permitted CAFO locations and a graph showing the types of operations and their growth since 1985. For more information, please contact the DNR and local governmental officials in any area that may be of interest to you. Buyers or sellers interested in learning more about such issues should consult the DNR and county officials in any specific area in which you may have interest.

Map of CAFOS with WPDES permits in Wisconsin Graph of CAFOS with WPDES permits, by year

WATER CONTAMINANTS AND WATER TREATMENT INFORMATION REFERENCES:

There are a number of water quality concerns that may arise with a given property, whether on private well system or municipal wells. There are also a number of courses of information regarding these issues. Below is reference to only a few of those informational sources, including the Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services (DSPS), the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR), and the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). One seeking information would also wish to contact the specific municipality with any questions. There are also a great deal of other private and scientific sources.

With regard to water treatment, the DSPS has information about approved water treatment devices for various different contaminants one might encounter. Water treatment devices for various different kinds of water contaminants have been approved by the Safety and Building Division of the Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services (DSPS). You may contact the Department to obtain a list of manufacturers and their approved products, with identification of which contaminants they treat.

There is also a Plumbing Product Search database maintained by the Department, which contain approvals of plumbing, private onsite wastewater treatment systems, and pools products. Drinking water treatment device approval information is also available. https://dsps.wi.gov/pages/Programs/Plumbing/Default.aspx

There is also information available through the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), among others.

The above sources have a lot of information on drinking water, various contaminants, wells and water quality generally. You may contact them directly with any questions or updates if the above links do not direct you to the desired information. In addition to these sources for reference, in any situation of concern, you should also contact the local municipality and the local professionals with expertise in water quality and water treatment, and local contractors, with any questions.

The EPA has a lot of information about water quality, including federal regulations and resources and state-specific information. https://www.epa.gov/wqs-tech State-specific information: https://www.epa.gov/wqs-tech/state-specific-water-quality-standards-effective-under-clean-water-act-cwa The EPA also has information about drinking water quality regulations and specific types of contaminants and the standards related to each. https://www.epa.gov/dwstandardsregulations. See also https://www.epa.gov/ground-water-and-drinking-water, https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2019-07/documents/ace3-drinking-water-report-section.pdf and https://nepis.epa.gov/Exe/ZyPDF.cgi/P1008ZP0.PDF?Dockey=P1008ZP0.PDF

PFAS AND SIMILAR TOXIC SUBTANCES:

PFAS (Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl substances) and related substances and chemicals are now widely recognized as presenting a potential health hazard, particularly in the water supply, even in relatively low amounts. This is not a problem unique to Wisconsin. There is a lot of information from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and other sources about these substances, their potential health effects, and efforts to address the situation. The following are just a few samples of the numerous sources for information about PFAS and related substances and reference to further sources and more specific information: (EPA) https://www.epa.gov/pfas and https://www.epa.gov/pfas/pfas-explained; (DNR) https://dnr.wisconsin.gov/topic/PFAS and https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/chemical/pfas.htm; (Also CDC and Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry) https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/pfas/ and https://wwwn.cdc.gov/TSP/ToxFAQs/ToxFAQsDetails.aspx?faqid=1116&toxid=237

Governmental responses to PFAS and related substances is ongoing, including more exacting testing and remediation efforts. There is some controversy and some confusion around this whole issue, and even in identifying exactly what amounts of these substances present health concerns. For example, the EPA has established health advisory levels expressed as at 70 parts per trillion, https://www.epa.gov/ground-water-and-drinking-water/drinking-water-health-advisories-pfoa-and-pfos#:~:text=To%20provide%20Americans%2C%20including%20the,at%2070%20parts%20per%20trillion. DHS has recommended a combined standard of 20 ng/L for PFOA, PFOS, FOSA, NEtFOSA, and NEtFOSE. https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/chemical/pfas.htm also https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/water/gws.htm. There are also some cooperative efforts between the various states. See, e.g.,Overview of various states and cooperative efforts at setting standards: https://www.ecos.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Updated-Standards-White-Paper-April-2021.pdf

Increased and more sensitive testing in recent years has revealed some areas of concern in Wisconsin. Some reports of possible PFAS issues include some areas around Madison, Marinette, the Town of Campbell on French Island just outside La Crosse, Peshtigo,Wausau, and some water systems in the Milwaukee area. See. E.g., (Wausau) https://www.ci.wausau.wi.us/Departments/WausauWaterWorks/PFAS.aspx; (Marinette and Peshtigo) https://dnr.wisconsin.gov/topic/PFAS/MarinetteFAQ.html; (around Madison & Dane County) https://dnr.wisconsin.gov/topic/PFAS/DaneCounty.html https://www.cityofmadison.com/water/water-quality/water-quality-testing/perfluorinated-compounds https://www.publichealthmdc.com/environmental-health/environmental-hazards/pfas; (Milwaukee) https://patch.com/wisconsin/milwaukee/toxic-pfas-chemical-found-6-wisconsin-water-systems

This information, and references, may be expected to be quickly superseded, with more current information available online and from governmental and environmental sources, so one should check for the most recent information and sources in any given situation. If there is any specific concern or question in a given area, please also check with the specific municipality and local health department.

RADON INFORMATION:

Radon is a naturally occurring gas that is radioactive and can cause lung cancer. Radon can leak into your home and is common in Wisconsin. You cannot see or smell it, but you can test for it and install remediation devices to help protect yourself. It is estimated that 1 out of 10 homes in Wisconsin has high radon levels. Radon can be detected by testing. The State’s offer contracts are adding contingencies to allow testing for radon, or a provision is available in various addenda for potential offers. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has developed guidelines. High levels are indicated by an EPA average radon level of more than 4.0 picoCuries per liter (pCi/L), per EPA guidelines.

There is a lot of information about radon on the internet. Wisconsin’s Department of Health Services (DHS) has an information page at: https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/radon/index.htm. That website provides a lot of information about radon, the incidence of radon, as well as providing information about remediation methods and links to contractors to test for and remediate radon in homes in Wisconsin. Among other materials accessible on the site is an information facts sheet from DHS at: https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/publications/p01963.pdf. The EPA also offers helpful brochure: https://www.epa.gov/sites/default/files/2016-12/documents/2016_a_citizens_guide_to_radon.pdf

There is also an interactive Map available through the DHS site. If the interactive map, or any of the other links, do not connect correctly, please go directly to the DHS or EPA sites.

Link to Interactive Map of Radon Test Results
View interactive map of radon test results to see where radon levels are the highest.

WETLANDS INFORMATION SOURCES:

Wetlands are valuable resource, benefitting both people and nature. There are many varieties of wetlands in Wisconsin, including marshes, meadows, wooded swamps, bogs, fens and others. Descriptions and photographs can be found at https://www.wisconsinwetlands.org/learn/about-wetlands/. Wetlands are nurseries for fish and wildlife, purifiers for lakes, rivers and groundwater, and buffers for floodwaters, storehouse for carbon, and are also important for recreation and an integral part of our healthy and beautiful landscapes in Wisconsin.

Wetlands can also pose challenges in land development situations. All wetlands in Wisconsin are protected to one extent or another by law. These laws, necessary to preserve wetlands overall, can impose limitations on the development or uses of particular properties. Generally, wetlands cannot be built-upon, filled-in, or otherwise impacted, without authorization of under either federal or state law.

Owners or prospective purchasers should investigate the specific topographical particulars of any given property to confirm if consistent with their desired development or use of that property. The presence or absence of wetlands on any given property may require the assistance of environmental professionals, and the legal restrictions or requirements may require technical or legal assistance.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is a great source of information about wetlands in Wisconsin. DNR services and programs include Wetland Identification, Wetland Confirmation, and Wetland Delineation, and information about mapping and permits. See https://dnr.wisconsin.gov/topic/Wetlands/identification.html

Wetlands Identification Program. The DNR Wetland Identification Program is a service that identifies approximate wetland boundaries but does not provide a quantifiable extent of wetlands on the property and is not suitable for permit applications or crediting. See https://dnr.wisconsin.gov/topic/Wetlands/identification.html.

Wetlands Confirmation. Buyer can review maps and other resources for locating Wetlands at https://dnr.wisconsin.gov/topic/Wetlands/locating.html.

Wetland Boundary Delineation information can be found at: https://dnr.wisconsin.gov/topic/Wetlands/delineation.html

State and federal laws generally require permits before wetlands can be built upon, filled-in, or otherwise impacted. State wetland permit requirements and exemption information from the Wisconsin DNR can be found at: https://dnr.wisconsin.gov/topic/Wetlands/permits.

Federal wetland permit information from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers can be found at: https://www.mvp.usace.army.mil/Missions/Regulatory/Permitting-Process-Procedures/.

There may also be local permitting requirements. Not all projects contemplated for a property with wetlands may be eligible for permits. Construction in wetlands without permits will result in enforcement action, which may include removal of structures, wetland restoration, and potential fines.

Both the Real Estate Condition Report (RECR) and Vacant Land Disclosure Report (VDLR) have questions addressing whether the seller is aware of all or a portion of the property being located in a floodplain, wetland, or shoreland zoning area.

If an owner or prospective buyer intends a specific use for the property at issue, they should independently verify with all relevant sources whether the contemplated development or use is permissible, and what limitations, requirements and costs, if any, may apply. If professional assistance is required, such as confirmation, identification, delineation or permitting is applicable, then the owner or a prospective buyer intending any development or potentially impacting use should independently verify by consulting the relevant authorities and/or obtaining advice from the relevant professionals or officials.

FLOODPLAIN INFORMATION SOURCES:

Flooding risk, floodplains, and flood insurance are all very real and very important considerations for any owners or buyers dealing with any affected properties. Unfortunately, it is not always known or apparent what properties may be affected, but thankfully there is a lot of information available from federal and state and also private sources. Below is reference to some of those sources. Any owners or prospective buyers with any questions should consult those sources and speak to their lender and insurance carrier.

“Flood” is defined by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as any general or temporary condition of partial or complete inundation of 2 or more acres of normally dry land area or of 2 or more properties from overflow of inland or tidal waters, unusual or rapid accumulation or runoff of surface waters from any source; mudflow, or collapse or subsidence of land along the shore of a lake or similar body of water as a result of erosion or undermining caused by waves or currents of water exceeding anticipated cyclical levels that result in a flood as defined above. See: https://www.fema.gov/pdf/nfip/manual201205/content/22_definitions.pdf

A floodplain is any area susceptible to being inundated by such floodwaters. Floodplain maps, or Flood Hazard Boundary Maps, are official maps issued by FEMA showing boundaries of flood, mudflow, and related erosion area with special hazards have been identified.

Flood insurance is required on certain affected properties, but can be expensive and can be expected to increase over time. Regulations and programs relating to floodplains and flood insurance may also be expected to change over time.

Floodplain maps may be complicated to interpret and may need updating, so any owner or prospective buyer should get professional assistance and consult the applicable authorities and their lender and insurance carrier if dealing with an affected, or potentially affected, property. Any owner or buyer with questions should also consult local authorities if there are any applicable local regulations.

For more information, see FEMA’s and the DNR websites, and related links, or contact those agencies, or your lender or insurance carrier directly. Some sources below:

DNR Resources:

FEMA and Map Information:

Insurance Information:

RESOURCE LINKS DISCLAIMER:

Hopefully the information on this page is of assistance in directing you to information on any of the above topics of interest to you. We have to note, however, that while different website links are provided above, please understand we are not responsible for the content or security of those sites or for the information they may contain. Each link referenced above was operable upon posting, but please also understand that we cannot guarantee such outside sites continue to operate or are not changed or replaced over time. If there is ever any question, we recommend you also contact the desired authority directly. You may also perform any desired search directly within any authority’s website or using a general browser. In addition, you should always also contact the local municipality and the State governmental authorities directly for questions about any particular issue or property. In most cases contacting the local officials and contacting the primary state agencies referenced above, such as the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Wisconsin Department of Health Services, or Environmental Protection Agency will either yield the desired information or they may direct you further, if need be.