Loading
Search
NEWS STORIES

Rhinelander shuts down well after finding high chemical levels, declares water now safe; no assurance for purity of private wellsSubmitted: 07/23/2019
Story By Ben Meyer

Rhinelander shuts down well after finding high chemical levels, declares water now safe; no assurance for purity of private wells
RHINELANDER - The City of Rhinelander told residents this week its municipal water is safe to drink, responding to concerns of elevated chemical levels in city water.

On Monday night, the city said it had shut down Well 7 on June 24 after a test for perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) came back showing excessive levels.

But on Tuesday morning, the Oneida County Health Department couldn't offer a similar assurance about the purity of private wells in the area.

PFAS refers to a group of manmade chemicals that may cause higher cholesterol, low infant birthweights, and lower female fertility, among other health risks. The manmade chemical is found in products like food wrappers, stain-resistant fabrics, and nail polish.


On May 30, Rhinelander voluntarily submitted a water sample from each of its five operational wells. It reviewed the results on June 24. They showed the PFAS level on Well 7, which is at the Rhinelander-Oneida County Airport, at 104.8 parts per trillion.

"The results indicated that one of the city's five wells, Well 7, had levels of this PFAS chemical that exceeded the EPA's lifetime disclosure advisory," said Rhinelander City Administrator Daniel Guild on Tuesday. "So, out of an abundance of caution, and a desire to communicate with our customers and citizens, we shut down Well 7."

Neither the federal or state government has PFAS limits that carry the force of law. However, the EPA's health advisory level is 70 parts per trillion. On June 21, three days before the well was shut off, the state of Wisconsin announced a new recommended groundwater standard limit of 20 parts per trillion. Well 7's numbers, while not violating any regulations, were above both recommendations.

Well 7 was shut off the same day the results were received. An additional test, using water collected on June 27, showed the PFAS level in Well 7 at 86.9 parts per trillion.

Starting June 24, city customers have been served by water from the four remaining wells.

"Rhinelander Water Utility customers are receiving their water through the city's distribution system, and the distribution system is pressurized and treated from water combining from Wells 4, 5, 6, and 8," Guild said.

Both the city and the Oneida County Health Department are confident, with Well 7 off, city water is safe to drink. Testing from water on May 30 showed the remaining wells are far below concerning PFAS levels.

"Only Well 7 has been affected by PFAS so far, and, of course, that well has been taken offline. It's not contributing any longer to the city's water supply," said county environmental health specialist Todd Troskey. "There's no indication that the other wells have been affected."

While officials say city water is safe to drink, they can't be sure about water in nearby private wells.

"There is not currently enough information to determine where the contamination comes from or extends to," said Oneida County Health Officer Linda Conlon in a press release. "If people are concerned about their private well, we recommend they find an alternative source of water, such as bottled water or water from a known safe source."

"If they think that they may have some health issues that potentially are related to PFAS substances, the first step would be maybe to consult their physician," Troskey said on Tuesday.

Troskey decided to post warnings at the popular Crescent Spring on South River Road, southwest of the city of Rhinelander. The health department advises people not to drink from the spring as it undergoes testing for PFAS. The spring is not far from the location of Well 7.

"We have no reason to believe that there is any, but we're definitely being on the safe side," Troskey said.

The City of Rhinelander plans to mail a notice of the situation to each water customer. Guild said he's not worried about being able to meet the demand for water while running just four wells instead of five.

"At this current time, we don't have any concerns about being able to meet the demand of our customers," he said.

Text Size: + Increase | Decrease -
| Print Story | Email Story
Sponsored in part by HodagSports.com





 IN OTHER NEWS

Play Video

WAUSAU - Public health departments rely on contact tracing to stop coronavirus outbreaks before they happen.

But they can't do it without people to make the calls.

The Marathon County health department is hiring part-time contract workers to perform contact traces.

That involves determining how many people have been exposed to coronavirus by contact with a known positive case.

Those people are then contacted, tested and potentially quarantined.

People who are interested can apply by emailing a resume to jobs@westphalstaffing.com with "Contact Tracer: Referral Marathon County Health Department" in the subject line.

Judy Burrows from the Marathon County health department was very specific in describing what she's looking for from a potential hire.

+ Read More

Play Video

EAGLE RIVER - "For many of us, this day has been in our calendars or in a countdown as soon as we knew the date," said Northland Pines graduate Jillian Gleason.

Graduation day at Northland Pines happened without crowd, stage or students.

"We have faced challenges that no class has experienced before," Gleason said. "We're facing a world most don't know how to navigate."

But the Class of 2020 did have resolve, and a little bit of humor.

"Good afternoon: family, friends, faculty, and people who said 'well, I guess we have nothing better to do today,'" quipped student speaker Gunnar Schiffmann.

+ Read More

Play Video

RHINELANDER - 114 colorful flower baskets will soon flood the streets of downtown Rhinelander.

For eight years the master gardeners at Forth Floral have put their effort into making downtown appealing to visitors.

Every April, petunias--one of the easiest flowers to grow and maintain--are picked out by color and grown in the greenhouse.

After that, each basket is displayed in June and watered every day for the rest of the season.

Forth Floral co-owner Ruth Hempel knows the impact the flowers have on people.

"Oh, people just love the hanging baskets. It's just been a real boost, it's good for our community as well as all the visitors that come to town. It just makes downtown a really beautiful place," she said.

A committee works with downtown to fund a campaign to fund the planting and maintenance of the flowers.

As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, the group is struggling to find people to help nurture the plants.

+ Read More

MINNEAPOLIS, MN -
News of the arrest came moments after Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz acknowledged the "abject failure" of the response to the protests and called for swift justice for officers involved. Walz said the state would take over the response to the violence and that it's time to show respect and dignity to those who are suffering.

The former Minneapolis police officer shown on video putting his knee on the neck of George Floyd has been arrested, according to Minnesota Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington.

Derek Chauvin, who was fired on Monday along with three other officers involved in the detainment of Floyd, was taken into custody Friday.

Video showed Chauvin kneeling on Floyd's neck for at least eight minutes on Monday night. The police department initially said Floyd "physically resisted" the officers and that he died after "suffering medical distress."

+ Read More

MILWAUKEE - A rally organized by the group Community Task Force MKE took place outside the Wisconsin Black Historical Society at 1:00 p.m. today.

Protesters gathered to demand justice for the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Community activist Vaun Mayes took part in leading the rally.

+ Read More

MADISON, WI - The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is proud to host the 8th annual Wisconsin Free Fun Weekend. Park admission fees, fishing license and trail pass requirements will be waived on June 6-7 to encourage Wisconsinites to take advantage of and enjoy Wisconsin's outdoors.

During Free Fun Weekend June 6-7:

- No state park admission stickers or trail passes are required.
- People may fish without a fishing license or trout/salmon stamps. All other fishing regulations apply.
- ATV, UTVs, and OHMs are exempt from registration requirements. Resident and non-resident all-terrain vehicle operators do not need a trail pass to ride state ATV trails.
- Capacity limits remain in effect at some properties to limit overcrowding.
- Visitors are asked to recreate responsibly close to home and practice social distancing.

Before heading to a state park, trail or waterbody near you, here are some additional things to know:

FISHING

- Residents and non-residents will not be required to have a fishing license or trout/salmon stamps.
- All 2020-2021 fishing regulations apply including bag and length limits.
- Due to the public health risk, loaner equipment will not be available. Anglers should bring their own equipment and bait.
- Only anglers living in the same household (i.e. family members or roommates) should fish within six feet of one another.
- Events such as fishing clinics are canceled.
- Anglers are encouraged to have a backup plan in the event there is crowding or unsafe conditions where they plan to fish. We encourage everyone to fish safely and responsibly.
- Locate launches and shorefishing access points near you.

+ Read More

CRANDON -

The Sokaogan Chippewa Community in Crandon has been awarded $300,000 to fund their coronavirus relief effort.

According to a press release, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced they will award $15 million to 52 different tribes across the nation.

The money comes from the CARES Act that President Trump signed back in March.

Qualifying tribes can receive up to $300,000 in these grants. 


+ Read More
+ More General News
Search: