WAUSAU, Wis. — The City of Wausau recently activated a new water treatment facility that has made the drinking water PFAS free.

Last spring, Wausau residents received water filter pitchers because PFAS, otherwise known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, were discovered in the water.

Now, with the new water treatment facility, residents no longer need to use the pitchers.

As the Director of Wausau’s Public Works Department, Eric Lindman is making sure the city’s new water treatment facility — which became active in December — is running smoothly.

“This is really where all of our pretreatment of our groundwater comes in and the treatment process,” said Lindman. “The groundwater that we have is really low quality, a lot of iron and manganese, organic carbons and tannins in the water.”

(Spectrum News 1/Phillip Boudreaux)

The plant construction took a total of two and a half years. Lindman said building the facility was necessary because the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources had declared several water safety violations.

He said the groundwater was also at risk of contamination at their previous plant.

“From the old treatment facility that we moved from, which was built in 1961, we are producing a much higher quality of water which also sets us up in a way that we can manage future regulations as they come down in a more economical and efficient way,” said Lindman.

The new treatment plant provides cleaner water by using filters to remove the iron, manganese and organic carbon from the groundwater before it is distributed into homes.

Lindman said this brings PFAS to below detectable levels. That means residents no longer need special filters in their home.

“It’s also improved clarity and taste,” said Lindman. “We are also able to balance our chemicals a lot better with improved water quality leading the plant, meaning disinfection, our corrosion control out in the system for lead and copper. We are able to improve all of those downstream processes.”

For Lindman, it’s rewarding to provide this service for his community.

“Just knowing the improvements that we made, this is a generation project which will serve many generations beyond myself and even my children and I think it also sets up the City of Wausau for the next 80 to 100 years to continue to provide adequate drinking water,” said Lindman.

He and his team will continue to optimize their process to provide safe and clean drinking water for residents of the city.