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“People are tired…My kids are sick of hearing about PFAS.”
It’s late October in the northeast corner of Wisconsin. Trees have started to change colors and a colder wind whips across Lake Michigan. Gas station marquees welcome back fall hunters on their annual pilgrimage.
Tucked away at a technical college, citizens of the rural town of Peshtigo, population 4,006, try to get comfortable in plastic chairs, ready to hear from state officials, once again, about ways they may one day safely drink their home’s well water.
Cindy Boyle, the town’s board chair, is there with her husband, Chuck, one row up from the back. Cindy recently took to the political arena after years of cooking and cleaning with just bottled water.
Across the room, Jeff Budish, an avid angler and outdoorsman, waits to speak. He’s footed thousands of dollars buying his own bottled water and water filters; he also just wants to be able to fish safely. A few rows up from him sits Doug Oitzinger, a founding member of a local clean water advocacy group, taking diligent notes.
If a clear solution was sought by those in attendance at the state’s most recent in-person Peshtigo PFAS meeting, residents walked away empty handed. Officials told residents that plans to provide new groundwater wells are coming from the company responsible for the pollution, but not everyone gets a well.
Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, or DNR, employees spoke at length about new data from water testing, but, without clear guidance from both the state and the federal government, and the mounting costs of providing alternative drinking water, officials’ hands are tied. Boyle, the town supervisor, said the DNR was doing everything in their limited power to help, but the company responsible is “uncooperative.”