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Wausau Water works Committee takes steps to remove PFAS

The Wausau Water Works Committee is moving forward with a new strategy to manage PFAS in the...
The Wausau Water Works Committee is moving forward with a new strategy to manage PFAS in the city's drinking water. The committee held a special meeting Monday afternoon. They voted to move forward with a long-term solution to remove PFAS.(WSAW)
Published: Jun. 20, 2022 at 8:18 PM CDT
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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) - The Wausau Water Works Committee is moving forward with a new strategy to manage PFAS in the city’s drinking water. The committee held a special meeting Monday afternoon. They voted to move forward with a long-term solution to remove PFAS.

The estimated cost will be $16.8M, funded through a combination of loans and grants from the DNR and utility user rates. The Wausau Water Works Committee made a big step in an effort to lower the city’s PFAS levels. They’re going forward with plans for a chemical treatment called Granular Activated Carbon, or GAC.

“I feel really good, I think that the Wausau Water Works has always tried to have the best high quality water it can for its residents,” Wausau Public Works and Utilities Director Eric Lindman said.

The way GAC works is, water passes through the GAC material which then absorbs PFAS and other chemicals. Lindman said Wausau’s PFAS levels are around 30 Parts Per Trillion (PPT), which is about 10 PPT over the recommended limit by the DHS.

“We hope people will trust us, that we will expedite this as much as we can, working with the regulatory authorities, they have been good to work with,” Lindman said.

The U.S. EPA says municipalities with any detectable pfas levels must inform the public. The implementation of GAC will help bring pfas to that undetectable level, but Lindman expects that won’t be implemented for some time.

“It is potentially another 24 months before we actually get to the non-detectable levels. If we were to wait for standards to come out, we’d be even another six months behind,” Lindman said.

In the meantime, the new Water Treatment Facility opens in August. The committee also decided on a goal, which is to get PFAS levels under 20 PPT. The new plant will instantly bring PFAS levels down to between 12 and 15 PPT.

“I think we are now on a path for a long-term solution,” Lindman said.

They want to eventually get to non-detectable levels in the water. The GAC will be separate from the new water treatment plant.

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