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Council members, elected officials, and city of Wausau residents.

This writing in response to the recent news of the PFAS contamination of the city’s water supply by a group of home owners in multiple districts in the city. Specifically the part about the failure to notify the community of potential health hazards as a result.

This should be a consideration in general expectations of what it means to hold a public office. As an elected official you are also a member of the community in which you are elected to. This means that you have a moral and ethical obligation to keep your neighbors and the rest of the community that you serve well informed about situations that could affect their all around lives. Including their health and financial stability.

It is not your place to play identity politics and conform with a national trend in which you align yourself politically. Identity politics will do more harm than good at the local level. Nor should your public office be utilized to assist or find your pet projects in any way. We need real leadership.

Your obligation is to your neighbors in your community.

The current situation could be compared to what happened in the city of Flint Michigan. The same type of behavior from the elected officials led to the cover up of unsafe drinking water. The city of Wausau is not dealing with the same contamination nor are we dealing with the hazardous levels. It is the actions of those whom where elected and trusted.

It has been 8 years since the news broke of the Flint water crisis. The city of Flint has had clean drinkable water for two years, yet the public does not trust the safety of the water supply. Between Flint Michigan’s debacle and how the federal government has handled the Covid-19 situation, the trust us as taxpayers have for any level of government has been greatly affected.

Another issue that arose as a result of the water crisis was the property and home values in that city hit a 10 year low and still have yet to fully recover. This leads me to bring in a phrase that should always be a consideration to this council and any other person working in the government sector.

It is the law of unintended consequences.

The timeline here is to the best of our knowledge based on what We have been able to find from our own investigation with our background in environmental and water. We have access to a lot of DNR documents. Also from the words released in statements from officials of the city.

For whatever reason the discussion between the mayor and the DPW director seems to have ended there in 2019.

We are unaware if this was the decision of this council as a whole or not. But the October 2019 minutes from Wausau water works meeting had mentioned it only the elevated levels but also the knowledge that the dnr was intending on their own levels.

There was story that the mayor stated that the DPW director was not completely open with her in discussions. This is where we are going to point out the terrible example of leadership or lack there of. Finding someone to blame this on is not going to solve this issue nor will it make up for the failure to notify the community. It’s very clear from the minutes on the Wausau water works October 2019 meeting it was a topic of discussion. This is evidence that some people sitting on this council knew about it at that time yet when questioned about it they seem to be completely oblivious of this. This is not a witch hunt for who’s to blame. The elected officials whom the community put their trust into are the ones accountable.

The proper why this situation should have been handled would have been to notify the community immediately. Provide the community with as much information as possible. There’s a lot of information about PFAS out there, it’s been studied as a health risk as far back as 1998. Such as PFAS tends to be stored in the body for long periods of time. This would be good information for the community to be aware of to mitigate any potential health risks. The community should decide how to protect themselves on an individual basis, based on the information available. And if the city council would have came to the conclusion that more drastic measures should be taken they do so with the input from the community. After all we are a “community for all”

Being an elected official does not give you the right to play god, nor make decisions for the health of the people in which you serve. Decisions like these are to be determined by the individual and their physicians.

This leads to the next topic that is frustrating the community. The absolute disregard in how this city spends taxpayers funds. Perfect example is the spending of over 10 million dollars for a pedestrian bridge when that money could be allocated to other more useful things like public safety or even this very drinking water problem. Being an elected official of a municipality does not offer you a personal playground with unlimited funds. You are an employee of the community and you should have the communities best interest in mind. Those of us involved in formation of this letter share the same beliefs that we are not being taken into consideration when this city chooses to make decisions. This city has a history of botched projects where the community was left by the wayside to inflate the ego of some elected officials.

This is not a letter to requesting to reprimand anyone. We all know who is accountable. The real leaders will stand up and accept ownership for this situation.

This is a request that things start to change here and now. All involved accept accountability and inform the community as to what steps they will be taking to resolve the issues included in this letter and be sure the trust will never be broken in any way.

If we all as a community start making the right decision here at home hopefully there will be a ripple effect at the National level.


Brandon Sersch and other Wausau neighbors