By Shereen Siewert

Wausau Public Works Director Eric Lindman on Friday denied that he misled the mayor and a resident on toxic chemicals in the city’s water, while at the same time sending meeting minutes that conflict with a statement issued earlier this week.

Wausau Pilot & Review on Thursday broke the story that Lindman sent an email to Mayor Katie Rosenberg and a resident declaring the city’s water was “well below” new recommended limits – two years after toxic substances were found in five city wells. Other media outlets later followed suit.

Five of six Wausau wells tested in 2019 showed levels of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, above the new recommendation. An email written by Lindman on June 17, 2021 to Rosenberg and a resident who inquired about drinking water testing did not disclose those levels. Instead, Lindman wrote: “Wausau Water works…tested our source water for these compounds in the past and the latest round of sampling was in 2019.  USEPA has a limit of 70 parts per trillion and WDNR is considering a 20 parts per trillion limit. We are well below either of these.” 

Lindman, in an email Thursday to Wausau Pilot & Review, said he was “referring to the individual PFOA and PFOS compound samples.”

But the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources refers to the federal 70 ppt level and the state 20ppt level as combined PFAS, not individual toxins. In an attachment sent with his news release, Lindman highlighted a portion of his report given during a 2020 Wausau Waterworks Commission meeting that clearly showed he understands that the levels are considered together.

“Single PFOA or PFOS at 20 ppt is not an issues [sic], combined PFOA and PFOS at 20 ppt may need to be managed,” he wrote in his August 2020 report.

Lindman on Thursday did not respond to a request for clarification on his response, but on Friday he sent an email with a lengthy press release denying he misled anyone or kept test results from the public.

“I have been heavily questioned on an email I sent back in 2021 related to PFAS results and the wording of  the email,” he wrote. “Accused of holding information and all kinds of other ridiculous accusations.”

“I live and work in Wausau and my entire family continues to drink and use  Wausau tap water, absolutely!!!” his statement reads.

See the full release, embedded below.

News of PFAS discovered in above 20 ppt in all the city’s water wells prompted Dist. 3 Alderman Tom Kilian to request immediate alternative water sources for residents or means through which tap water can be filtered to below the 20 ppt standard recommended by the Department of Health Services. Kilian also called for a special meeting of the Common Council to discuss the water issue but so far none has been scheduled.

Lindman said “ambiguous messaging” is prompting fear and “eroding confidence in the water utility. In his news release, he credited himself with bringing forward a plan in 2016 to determine if Wausau’s existing water treatment facility was adequate for the city’s future needs. A new, $80 million water treatment facility is now under construction. That move came with significant pushback from “media and some residents,” Lindman said.

“Wausau Water Works has been and will continue to be very proactive and on the forefront of providing  safe drinking water to the residents,” Lindman wrote. “We will continue to follow regulations as they evolve, maintain compliance and in this case are well in front of PFAS regulations.”

City officials have called a special meeting of the Wausau Waterworks Commission, however. That meeting is set for 9 a.m. Tuesday morning, but no agenda has been posted as of Friday afternoon.

PFAS-City-Actions-11Feb2022

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Wausau email shows Public Works director appears to have misled mayor on water toxicity

Wausau email shows Public Works director appears to have misled mayor on water toxicity

By Shereen Siewert Two years after toxic substances were found in five Wausau wells, Public Works Director Eric Lindman assured Mayor Katie Rosenberg that the city’s water was “well below” new recommended limits, according to public records obtained by Wausau Pilot & Review Five of six Wausau wells tested in 2019 showed levels of per-…