Wisconsin Poor People’s Campaign stands with the people of Wausau to demand clean water

Last week, residents of Wausau found that every single drinking water well in their municipal water system revealed higher levels of PFAS (Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl substances, also known as “forever chemicals”) than recommended by proposed state thresholds for these chemicals. Similar results were found in tests dating back to 2019, a fact that was not made public. While the health impacts of PFAS are still being studied, research suggests that these contaminants:

  • have negative effects on reproductive health, such as decreased fertility or increased high blood pressure in pregnant women;
  • can cause developmental effects or delays in children, including low birth weight, accelerated puberty, bone variations, or behavioral changes;
  • increase the risk of some cancers, including prostate, kidney, and testicular cancers;
  • reduce the ability of the body’s immune system to fight infections, including reduced vaccine response;
  • interfere with the body’s natural hormones;
  • cause increased cholesterol levels and risk of obesity

The Mayor (who is ultimately responsible) and the head of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin (DPW) are quick to deflect and point the finger at the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR), but they never notified them of the PFAS contamination found in all of our city wells!

When you point a finger at someone you are pointing 3 back at yourself.

We have no ability to confirm or deny the accounts provided by our city servants. And while the contamination continues, the city provides no direction or assistance in dealing with this threat in a timely manner.

PFAS are directy related to industrial and unnatural chemical activity.

Low income and disabled people face higher risk of the effects of a forever chemical and are much less able to purchase or obtain bottled water at locations outside of their residence.

Join the Wisconsin Poor People’s Campaign Northcentral Chapter in demanding an emergent remedy by the city of Wausau, whose incompetence and indifference has led to an unacceptable level of health risk to all of us.

We need:

1. An immediate supply of free water to all schools, homeless shelters, food distribution centers such as Neighbor’s Place and Open Door

2. Home-delivered free water and filtering devices to homebound residents

3. Water stations around the city for mobile/car accessible residents where they can access free water and filters; (churches and community groups could assist)

4. Test the ground water around all high-risk areas (Wausau Chemical, 3M, Kolbe, etc.)

5. Full transparency of all city reports of contaminant findings, to be published in local media

The clock is ticking for Wausau residents. We know levels are rising, but we don’t know for how long we have been exposed, and we don’t know the citywide extent of the contamination by PFAS, or other already-detected toxins (dioxin, thallium, arsenic, VOCs, PAHs, PCBs, etc.).

Time is running out for the city administration to pivot to show they prioritize our basic health over cosmetic changes and catering to the bottom line of big business over its peoples’ needs.

No one will want to move to a toxic town, even if it’s covered with glitz and glitter anyway. Stop pointing fingers and providing disingenuous and equivocal advice! Direct city resources now to minimize a real time-sensitive threat to our health.

In the face of inaction by all levels of leadership, the Wisconsin Poor People’s Campaign is launching a project of survival to raise funds to distribute water in our community for free, especially for vulnerable neighbors. All funds will be used to purchase water, and if possible, filtration systems for immediate distribution to anyone who needs them.

Please follow this link to donate.