Wausau Pilot & Review

Wausau and Rib Mountain will see a massive influx of funding to ensure safe drinking water for residents as part of a huge $1.7 trillion spending package that passed in the U.S. Senate Thursday.

Alana Conley, State Press Secretary at Sen. Tammy Baldwin’s office, tells Wausau Pilot & Review that Wausau will specifically receive $1,667,000 to investigate, assess and implement PFAS treatment or alternative drinking water options for residents. Rib Mountain’s Sanitary District will receive the same amount to construct a water treatment plant that will remove PFAS from municipal supply wells, Conley said.

Wisconsin’s senators, Democrat Tammy Baldwin and Republican Ron Johnson, were split on the bill with Baldwin voting for the measure and Johnson voting against.

Wausau officials have grappled with how to manage the cost of PFAS removal from the municipal drinking water system after tests showed levels higher than public health recommendations.

In June, the Wausau Water Works Commission approved a new PFAS filtration technology, granular activated carbon or GAC, to be installed in the new water plan. According to the city’s outside financial consultant, GAC would cost the city over $16 million and will take about 18-24 months to install in the plant.

The bill also provides $5 million in funding for the Wisconsin Dept. of Workforce Development and $3.14 million in funding to support the state’s 988 Suicide Prevention Lifeline implementation plan, among others.

The spending package, approved on a 68-29 Senate vote, is expected to be signed by President Joe Biden in the coming days. The measure was the last vote for the Senate in the current Congress. Lawmakers will convene again in January.