PESHTIGO — Two possible solutions to per- and polyfluoroalkyl substance (PFAS) contamination in the Town of Peshtigo were rejected Tuesday by the Peshtigo Town Board.
The emerging contaminant family of compounds known as PFAS is a group of substances that can be found in common household products such as stain- and water-repellent fabrics, nonstick products, polishes, waxes, paints, cleaning products and firefighting foams, but can have detrimental health affects for those who consume it. PFAS in the Marinette County area originates from Johnson Controls-owned Tyco, through chemical testing and training at their local testing site in Marinette, and has contaminated a number of private wells in the Town of Peshtigo area, biosolids from the cities of Marinette and Peshtigo, fields which had the biosolids spread on them and local groundwater and surface water to the southeast of the facility and a few other locations.
Both the POET system and reverse osmosis were determined by them to only be short-term solutions to the PFAS contamination. The POET system, which would filter water at individual homes, was determined to require too much maintenance to be effective in the long-term.
Reverse osmosis, while removing PFAS effectively from water, would cause both a large loss of water and will possibly release PFAS back into the environment through septic systems.
“The biggest issue is that reverse osmosis produces a lot of waste water and it would have similar issues to POET. Lots of maintenance and a short shelf life,” Supervisor Kristen Edgar said.
While both POET and reverse osmosis are not being used as long-term solutions for the entire town, the board acknowledges that they would be a good short-term solution for individual homeowners.
The decision to remove both systems from consideration was voted on and passed, 4-1 with Chairman Herman Pottratz the only one voting against.
Debate about PFAS continued, with the board discussing a special meeting to inform the public about PFAS, which was set up by Edgar. The special meeting is scheduled to take place Nov. 10 at the Peshtigo town hall and will give the public a place to learn more and ask questions about what the board is doing about PFAS and hear from a speaker from the DNR about the situation.
Pottratz said he does not think the meeting was necessary.
“We don’t have anything to add,” Pottratz said. When asked to show up to the meeting by citizens Pottratz responded, “I make my own decisions. There is no need for this meeting, because there’s nothing new to share.”
“The DNR has been invited and is expected to speak at this meeting, so its not just information from the board, it is also information from the DNR,” said Supervisor Kayla Furton.
Pottratz and Supervisors Jon Drees and Don Staudenmaier indicated that they will not be attending the meeting, due to them thinking the entire thing unnecessary. Both Edgar and Furton will be present, but without a majority of the town board present, they will not be able to vote on any actions.
Edgar assures citizens that the meeting will still happen regardless of the number of supervisors present. If a majority of the board is not present, than a simple educational meeting will be held with Edgar, Furton and the DNR.
A vote to change the location of the meeting from the Peshtigo Town Hall to the Little River Country Club so more citizens can attend and adhere to social distancing was voted down, 3-2 with Furton and Edgar voting for the location change and Pottratz, Drees and Staudenmaier voting against.
In another matter, several updates and improvements were proposed for the town’s recycling center.
One of the main proposed improvements was a permanent sign at the recycling center to display the prices for recycling specific items. The board voted to begin accepting quotes for the sign and they recommended that the sign be easy to modify for when prices are changed.
Another issue was the pricing increases for recycling items such as televisions, garbage and tires. The board also voted to start accepting tree brush again but for a price. This pricing increase was done to help standardize the pricing and to help the workers with pricing decisions. The pricing information will be updated on the town’s website soon.
A new protocol for the road committee was proposed by Furton, the committee and communication policy. This new policy would encourage transparency and accountability within the Peshtigo Road Committee and would help to address both legal concerns and communication issues, especially considering the complicated legal issues the town is currently facing.
The protocol was discussed and reviewed by the board, but was tabled until the October meeting so that the town’s attorney can review the proposal’s contents.
Several road work projects were tabled to determine the amount of work that is truly needed on several roads, including both Hale and Spitzmacher roads. The work was halted because of the lack of financial information available to the board for several these projects. Edgar suggested a system be developed to help determine the need for roadwork and the severity of issues on roads throughout the town.
The only road that received approval for work was Pond Road.
In another matter, Drees reported that the signs provided by the city to residents living along the Peshtigo River to remind boaters that they are in a slow wake zone have been passed out to several residents. Currently, only six signs have been passed out to residents, but Drees thinks that numbers will improve once they make the availability of the signs known.
The board voted to continue with the slow wake sign project and to order more signs. The board allocated $100 to the project to purchase more signs. Signs are currently available at the Town of Peshtigo town hall and are available upon request.
Several announcements were made by Town Treasurer Marsha Rettke regarding the state of the town’s new website and audit of the town’s financials. Rettke is currently talking to several different people about revamping the town website and will be providing email addresses for the new supervisors soon.
The town’s audit will begin on Oct. 1 with a team visiting town hall for a day to go through several documents and talk to staff, and then the audit will continue for several weeks digitally, off-site. The last audit took place in 2018 and legally the town is required to do one every three years.
Finally, the board discussed several new possible locations for new “Cans for Kids” drop off locations. The only current location for can drop-off is at the town’s recycling center, but two new locations, one possibly at the town landfill, were suggested by Pottratz. The idea was well received but tabled until October to allow the board to gather more information on the new possible locations.