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Rhinelander Examining Treatment Options For Water From PFAS-Contaminated Wells

Ben Meyer/WXPR

Rhinelander has started examining options for treating PFAS-contaminated water being produced by two city wells.

Wells 7 and 8 have been shut down since last year after excessive levels of the chemicals were found in the water.

This week, Rhinelander Mayor Chris Frederickson said he and others are looking at options for a treatment system for the water from the wells.

“Just this week alone, between Zach Vruwink and myself and reaching out to different resources, we started to compile a list of possible treatments that we could look at and research. In conjunction with Dr. James Tinjum, [we’re] working out which ones are possible to continue to study,” Frederickson said.

Vruwink is acting as City Administrator, and  Tinjum was hired as the city’s PFAS consultant.

PFAS refers to a group of manmade compounds linked to health risks, including cancer, when ingested.

Rhinelander Wastewater Foreman Jim Gossage said the wells could be good candidates for treatment through either granular activated carbon or resins.

“I would think that the Wells 7 and 8 site is a great site to do some pilot work at for any and all technologies that may be out there for treatment,” Gossage said.

High cost of such treatment systems has been a challenge to other communities facing PFAS problems.

The source of the PFAS contamination in the two city wells has yet to be conclusively identified.

Frederickson and Gossage made their comments as part of a Water Action Team – Rhinelander virtual session.

Ben worked as the Special Topics Correspondent at WXPR from September 2019 until November 2021. He now contributes occasionally to WXPR. During his full-time employment, his main focus was reporting on environment and natural resources issues in northern Wisconsin and Michigan's Upper Peninsula as part of The Stream, a weekly series.
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