Town Of Peshtigo Residents Discuss PFAS Water Options Issue Date: March 11, 2022
The Town of Peshtigo Board held two meetings on Thursday, March 3, the first being the Ad-Hoc Water Committee.
Ad Hoc Committee Member Chuck Boyle and Supervisor Cindy Baur gave an update of the PFAS warning sign that will be installed in areas of the town where the water is contaminated with PFAS. The sign states 'Warning This Water Contains PFAS' and notes a warning of exposure and the steps to take incase of contact. Four sign designs were presented to the board and a choice was made to choose a warning sign versus an advisory sign with red graphics in the size of 18"x24"or larger. Fifty signs will be ordered and will be paid for by Tyco/JCI.
Supervisor Kayla Furton advised that the Natural Resources Board (NRB) public testimony provided on behalf of the Town of Peshtigo (TOP) met Wednesday, Feb. 23 to set PPT (Parts Per Trillion) standards for the state of Wisconsin. The result ended in a tie vote with no action taken on PFAS ground water standards, 70 PPT stayed the same for drinking water standards and surface water standards were set at 7 PPT. The standards are reviewable every two years by the Department of Health Services.
The NRB board is currently comprised of skewed appointments. One member refused to vacate his seat until the legislative body confirms his replacement, but the legislative body refuses to bring the replacement nomination to the floor for a vote, effectively holding ransom a seat that does not reflect the will of the people.
Retired Hydrogeologist Jeff Lamont, Chairperson Boyle, Supervisor Furton and City of Marinette Alderperson Doug Oitzinger gave testimony and represented the TOP at the meeting. Lamont said, "There was very respectable representation from our area". Lamont also added, "The NRB Board members were digging in the pockets of business lobbyists and there was a lot of yelling and screaming going on". Boyle added, "It was very apparent of their intentions".
Boyle and Lamont participated via Zoom in the Great Lakes Day Coalition, which included all the states that border the Great Lakes. The purpose of the discussion was to discuss the Great Lakes clean water initiative and safe drinking water (PFAS). Also in attendance were Congressman Gallagher, Moore, Kind and several others. Boyle was very engaged in the conversations that occurred.
Boyle provided a lengthy overview of the Jan. 26 Summit with TOP, Tyco/JCI and the Facilitator and the Feb. 15 Summit including TOP, City of Peshtigo, DNR and the Facilitator promoting annexation to the city of Marinette and supposed falsehoods with their campaign.
Tyco is doing a phone campaign and calling residents in the affected area to discuss the options that they are proposing of suitable solutions for the TOP with one of the options being deep wells. Boyle cautioned residents stating, "Once you sign off and accept, Tyco is done. At the source of the contamination, it is 400,000 PPT and the DNR does not condone deep wells. The DNR re-affirmed that the only solution is permanent safe drinking water and none of the options that are being stated are fast, cheap or affordable. This needs to be a unified community agreement. Tyco lied to us and didn't own up to the contamination, why would you believe them"?
Boyle indicated that everything is still in discussion stages with the City of Peshtigo along with all the other water distribution options. Boyle stated, "The TOP will not borrow our way to this solution. None of the options can happen without the responsible party (Tyco/JCI). They have to pay for the whole solution".
TOP resident, Trygve Rhude spoke to the audience saying, "I want to stand on staying the course. You have to stay the course if you want a good decision for everyone in the Town. We need to fight for everyone in the Town of Peshtigo and to do that we need to stay the course. It will take time, but thats the way it has to be".
Resident Jennifer Friday voiced her frustration stating, "I know why you are not getting anything accomplished, because all you talked about is JCI. It is disappointing that the only concern you have in the town is water". Boyle replied, "I give this town more time than I gave my campaign and I have every single month for board meetings and all other meetings as well. I want to know everything about everything. I am not in JCI's pocket. I am trying to represent everyone. To think that Tyco/JCI is going to pay this forever, nobody pays for anything forever".
Lamont added, "There are many places that provided water to areas without annexation. The City of Marinette is requiring annexation to the city and they don't have to". Boyle added, "Their sewer and water is a separate entity that is funded by rate payers".
Resident Scott Beatty questioned Boyle, "One of the options is thousands of dollars a year to maintain, is it the Boards goal to pay for that"? Boyle replied, "The goal is to make sure there is no added expense to the Town".
Much more heated, but good discussion took pace before the meeting ended. The next Ad Hoc Water Committee meeting will be held Thursday, April 7.
The Board then transitioned into the Special Town Board meeting starting with public comment from Karen Sylvester stating, "I have a concern, I don't understand why you are moving into closed session about the attorney, Will this eventually be released to the citizens?" Town Attorney Al Reiter replied, "We are still in the negotiating terms of the contract and that contract will not result in payment by the tax payers. We can't guarantee the result of engagement but it will be free water system for the entire town".
Sylvester addressed a reply to Boyle saying, "I am still concerned about the number of closed sessions that are being held. The closed sessions are extensive. When you ran your candidacy you ran on transparency and open communication, and closed door sessions are now overwhelming". Chuck Boyle responded, "We have a confidentiality agreement with the facilitators of the water summit and we are bound by an agreement".
Rhude also commented in public comment stating, "A few people have talked to me about annexation and if we annex, the town will lose a lot of tax base and we would still have a massive area of contamination that wouldn't be taken care of".
ARPA funds were then briefly reviewed and a further review will be given at the next town meeting.
Before going into closed session, a request was made by Supervisor Baur to receive regular town board meeting minutes within seven days from date of the meeting. Boyle replied, "That would only account for two work days". Clerk Clarence Coble responded, "With all due respect, I will make every effort to do that but elections come first and there are four elections this year". Chairperson Boyle supported Coble's comment.
The meeting moved into closed session to confer with legal counsel to discuss negotiations of potential water service solutions to address a PFAS contamination and mediation status, Grant and Eisenhofer legal contract. Also for a decision on compensation for Town Clerk in reference to supplemental training and election/ compensation hours for the Clerk.
After reconvening into open session it was released that supplemental training and election hours/ compensation for the Clerk were discontinued. No results were given for the Grant and Eisenhofer legal contract.
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