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Town of Peshtigo votes for legal guidance before decision on water supply

Johnson Controls sign in Marinette, November 9, 2020 (WLUK/Eric Peterson)
Johnson Controls sign in Marinette, November 9, 2020 (WLUK/Eric Peterson)
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TOWN OF PESHTIGO (WLUK) -- A heated meeting was held in the Town of Peshtigo Thursday about how to get safe drinking water to some residents.

It's been an ongoing issue with Johnson Controls, the parent company of Tyco Fire Products. For years, the company tested firefighting foam in the area. That foam is blamed for PFAS contamination.

Three years after first learning their private wells had unsafe levels of PFAS, dozens of Town of Peshtigo residents are still waiting for a permanent solution for water.

“JCI would like you to believe that they've been doing things out of good corporate citizen model, that is not ever, ever the case,” said Cindy Boyle, an affected resident who is also running to be Peshtigo’s next town chairperson.

Johnson Controls has agreed to pay for a permanent water source. However, some residents say they don't trust the company's word.

In the special meeting, Peshtigo’s board of supervisors voted 4 to 1 to have a law firm draft a letter to the City of Marinette, asking the city to supply water to affected residents at Johnson Controls' expense.

“It's getting to be foolishness,” said Herman Pottratz, the town’s current chairperson. “You're dragging stuff out that shouldn't be.”

Pottratz was the lone no vote.

“You can accomplish the same thing by running it through Tyco and leaving the town out of it,” said Pottratz, which other board members challenged the legality of. “You can get that water going and the line around the city.”

FOX 11 requested an interview with Johnson Controls, but it sent us a statement instead.

“We appreciate the Town of Peshtigo Supervisors’ attention to the important issue of delivering a long-term, sustainable and reliable drinking water supply for residents whose wells were impacted by PFAS from our Fire Technology Center,” read the statement from Johnson Controls. “Decisions on a water line will be made by both Peshtigo and Marinette city officials representing their communities. Tyco has and will continue to pay for legal and technical assistance the communities need to reach decisions. Once decisions are made, we are committed to funding and constructing a permanent water line.”

“It's really now just about making sure everybody is looked out for and provided safe drinking water and not at the public's expense,” said Boyle.

The permanent water supply is separate from a class action lawsuit settlement that was announced for $17.5 million between at least 271 households.

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However, some residents have already told us they plan to opt out of the suit, partly because it doesn't guarantee a permanent safe water source.

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