MARINETTE — According to a press release from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR), the department has canceled, adjusted or postponed an array of in-person public events and meetings. This includes the upcoming PFAS information session scheduled for Tuesday at the City of Marinette Community Rec Center. The meeting was to address topics related to the long term potable water options for the Town of Peshtigo (TOP). For the last two years, options for safe and clean drinking water for the residents of TOP have waited in limbo after many of their private wells suffered contamination of PFAS stemming from the firefighting foams uses at the Tyco fire technology center in Marinette. 

In 2017, JCI/Tyco first informed town residents that due to contamination of groundwater from activities at their Marinette fire technology center, PFAS contaminants had leached into TOP private drinking water wells. Since that time, residents continue to endure the hassles of various short-term solutions to safe drinking water. Currently, Tyco provides bottled water at no cost and under certain condition the company also installs of point of entry (POET) carbon filtration systems for some residents whose wells suffered more severe contamination. 

However, all interested parties, including the residents of the Town of Peshtigo, JCI/Tyco, the cities of Marinette and Peshtigo and the WDNR continue to work on a more effective and permanent solution which may entail extension of drinking water utility systems from either the City of Peshtigo or Marinette. According to officials with JCI/Tyco, extending Marinette’s lines still represents the most viable option.

“This is the best option to provide safe and reliable drinking water to the residents,” Fraser Engerman, director of global media relations for JCI informed the EagleHerald last Tuesday. “We are still having discussions with all parties involved in the hopes of making further progress.”

However, with the cancellation of various WDNR meetings, including Tuesday’s PFAS information session, progress on the PFAS front may be further delayed. 

The WDNR  press release explained that such cancellations are to protect staff and residents from the spread of COVID-19, and that the department’s decision is based on recent guidance from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) and Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers’ emergency order issued on Tuesday that bans all gatherings of 10 people or more whether inside or outside.

“As state agencies continue operations, please understand that most of our staff are teleworking and may have limited access to files and delayed online connectivity,” the release stated. “We are still available to serve you and apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.”

In the meantime, readers can access all meeting cancellations and updates related to the City of Marinette and Town of Peshtigo PFAS contamination at: dnr.wi.gov/topic/Contaminants/Marinette.html