Wausau spent $30,000 on PFAS messaging
Records requested by The Wausonian revealed the city paid $10s of thousands on messaging - did it get what it paid for?
On a cold day in February 2022, city leaders called an emergency press conference. No one exactly knew what it was all about.
It turned out, levels of PFAS — chemical byproducts from manufacturing that are linked to adverse health outcomes such as cancer — in the city’s six wells were higher than what the state was recommending.
The result was something of a panic as people suddenly weren’t sure they trusted the water they’d been drinking all along.
Millions of dollars later, the city’s water is virtually PFAS free. The city bought and gave out bottles of water, and later pitchers with filters, to city residents. They bought expensive filters for the city’s brand new water treatment plant that was never equipped to filter out PFAS.
It was right to address the PFAS - the links to cancer and other poor health outcomes is pretty solid. The Environmental Protection Agency, which previously had a standard much higher than the Department of Natural Resources and the state Department of Health were recommending, is soon to change it’s standard to zero PFAS - or levels so low they’re nearly undetectable. Addressing PFAS made sense.
But that’s a separate question from whether or not the city handled the messaging right. The city paid tens of thousands in taxpayer money for help with messaging that ultimately seemed to panic members of the public, who suddenly didn’t know whether to trust what was coming out of their taps.
According to records requested by The Wausonian, the city spent a collective $30,974 on a firm around PFAS messaging.
That’s a drop in the bucket compared to the millions spent on addressing PFAS. But still, $31,000 is $31,000.
The Wausonian asked Mayor Katie Rosenberg what she had to say about the expenditure. Here’s what she said.
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