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Collecting additional data on private water wells in an active PFAS plume, Town of Peshtigo, WI.

Town of Peshtigo, Wisconsin

Featured image for the project, Collecting additional data on private water wells in an active PFAS plume, Town of Peshtigo, WI.

Aerial image of a portion of the Town of Peshtigo. Photo Courtesy of Cindy Boyle.

This project coordinated the collection and testing of 2 water samples from Town of Peshtigo residents for PFAS. PFAS is a widespread chemical compound that is known to have harmful effects to humans, animals, and the environment ( Samples were analyzed at the Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene using EPA standard methods. The data collected was shared with WIDNR partners to be used for groundwater modeling and future decision making.  

The selected sites for this project lie just outside (1mi) of the study area delineated by the WIDNR, so these residents have previously not been afforded the option for free testing. The cost of each test is $635 and can be burdensome for residents. Providing the testing through this project has given 2 Town of Peshtigo households the opportunity to have their private water supply tested for PFAS. In addition to collecting new data, these datasets can serve as points of reference should the WIDNR find reason to expand their study area. 


About the Community

The Town of Peshtigo is a rural town in northeastern Wisconsin, bordered on the east by the bay of Green Bay and multiple municipalities to the west. There are approximately 4,000 residents in the Town of Peshtigo representing multiple generations of families. The Community Lead for this project is the Town Chairperson, Jennifer Friday. Working with the program, the Community hopes to gather additional data on water supply in an area adjacent to an active PFAS plume. The PFAS plume near the Town of Peshtigo is the largest and most complex environmental catastrophe in Wisconsin’s history. By collecting additional data from wells near the affected area, the Community hopes the data can be used in future models and decision making.  

About the Project

  • This project began with a set of community leaders interested in developing a project that would support ongoing progress towards applying for infrastructure to provide a municipal water system safe from PFAS contamination. Initially, we worked with an engineering firm to understand the process for applying to a loan program through the WIDNR. We recruited someone with grant writing expertise as our scientist. During the course of this project, our community leader was not re-elected to her position as Town Chairperson and the other community leaders were not interested in continuing the project without her.  
  • The newly elected Town Chairperson was willing to restructure the project and continue with a new plan of selecting and testing resident’s water for PFAS. Working with the Town Clerk, we were able to place an ad in the local newspaper alerting residents that there was an opportunity for 2 households to have their water tested. Interested residents submitted their contact information to the Town Clerk and we received 24 interested residents. 2 residents were randomly selected and each agreed to participate in the testing. Funding for testing was provided by the Thriving Earth Exchange program. Samples were sent to and analyzed at the WI State Lab of Hygiene using EPA standard methods. Results were returned to the residents and shared with the WIDNR to be included in further groundwater models. The community will benefit from the addition of these two data points as they show conditions just outside the delineated area; I hope these results give piece of mind to the residents and empower them to continue engaging with the work being done to understand the contamination within their community. 
  • Serving as both the project scientist and community fellow gave me an interesting glimpse into how we as scientists must develop and use skills to communicate and distill scientific information. The reports residents received with their results was quite technical; I was able to use my skills as a scientist to understand the report and relay the results to the residents using language they could better understand.  

Approximately 35% of private wells in the Town of Peshtigo are located within an active PFAS plume; PFAS (a known carcinogen) is known to cause harmful effects to both humans and the environment ( Some areas within the site investigation area delineated by the WIDNR lack data. We intend to find a scientist to guide the project in selecting areas where additional data is needed and working with homeowners to obtain testing on private water wells. When completed, the data generated from this project will be incorporated into future groundwater models and may aid in decision making processes. Additionally, this data will be shared with the WIDNR and incorporated into their dataset (Table 1) and map of private drinking water well sampling results (

Results from the WIDNR’s efforts to track concentrations of PFAS in private drinking water wells through 2021. (


Secrets for Success

  • Many of the residents that signed up to participate in the program were just outside the delineated area of study. Initially, I was hesitant to select a household just outside the area, but upon reflection I saw the problem differently. I thought about how I might feel to know that there was an active pollutant in the groundwater and have little understanding of groundwater. I can imagine the distress of residents not being able to afford the testing and not given the opportunity of free testing, all while being concerned that their water source may be polluted. I think I would share with future scientists that they may encounter parts of their project that they won’t be able to apply scientific meaning to. They may have to include some element of empathy into their project planning and methods.
  • I can’t stress enough how important it is to be clear in your goals and make sure that if you are contributing to an overall or long term goal; ensure that you are taking manageable “bites” out of that project. Our initial goal was “apply to loan program for municipal water source.” That goal quickly became, “what part of that long term goal can we manage with this program.” I think even if we had simply used this program to 1. get the community leaders information on what the process looks like for applying to the program, and 2. Set up with an engineering firm to do the technical design and development of the planning needed to submit as part of the application, that would have been a successful project.


Timeline and Milestones

  • Initially, time commitment was 2-3 hours/month. A lot of project goal deliberation and planning. At least one 1-hour meeting each month with team.
  • When Jennifer took over as community leader, we met 2-3 times initially to design the project, but then needed to meet much less once residents were selected for testing. Most of the new project was spent waiting for the test results to come back.

Project Team

Community Lead

  • Jennifer Friday- Town of Peshtigo Chairperson
    • Jennifer Friday has worked in healthcare for 32 years, 20 of those as a registered nurse and 12 as a nurse practitioner. In April 2023 she ventured into local government and now serves as Town of Peshtigo Chairperson.

Community Science Fellow


Carsyn Ames Headshot

Carsyn Ames- AGU Thriving Earth Exchange Fellow, Samples Coordinator at the Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Survey (WGNHS)

Carsyn Ames (she/her) is the curator for the Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Survey’s (WGNHS) geological collections. She got her start in Geology by earning a B.S. at the University of South Carolina before moving on to the University of Iowa where she earned a M.S. Throughout her academic career, Carsyn has studied and dated detrital minerals to answer questions about the geologic past they record. Carsyn is excited to directly help a community in her home state through TEX. In her free time, she enjoys hiking and camping around Wisconsin with her partner and dog, as well as bowling and reading.

Former Team Members

Cindy Boyle- Former Town of Peshtigo Chairperson

Cindy Boyle is the 29-year owner of Boyle Design Group, a marketing/sign business. Married for 27 years, Cindy and he husband own multiple small businesses and rental properties, have three sons and two grandchildren. For more than 4 years, Cindy has been organizing, educating and advocating for State and Federal standards for PFAS groundwater and surface water. She is a founding member of SOH2O, a PFAS awareness advocacy group, and has served as the Town of Peshtigo Chairperson for the past year.


Kayla Furton –Town of Peshtigo Supervisor

Kayla Furton is an educator by training and profession, an environmental advocate through interest and priority, a clean water PFAS advocate with a local advocacy group by necessity, and Town Board Supervisor through a commitment to working for change at all levels.


Jeffery Lamont- Founding member of SOH2O

Jeffery Lamont worked for CH2M HILL as a Project Manager and Hydrogeologist for 28 years where he was involved in the investigation, design and implementation of a wide array of remedial actions for contaminated sites throughout North America. In addition, he has led the sediment remediation and demolition practices for over 15 years and has been advocating for the last 5 years for State and Federal numerical standards for PFAS compounds.

Collaborating Organization(s)

Town of Peshtigo

Town of Peshtigo Logo

  • About the organization: From: – “The Town of Peshtigo is located between the cities of Marinette and Peshtigo, Wisconsin. It offers a vibrant, rural community full of friendly people. There are excellent educational opportunities, outstanding medical services and a wide variety of outdoor activities within close reach. These attributes contribute to an outstanding quality of life that makes living in the Town a truly unique experience.”
  • The Town of Peshtigo Chairperson, Clerk, and Treasurer were all instrumental in the process and success of this project. Town Chairperson, Jennifer Friday served as the Community Lead and worked with Carsyn Ames, project scientist and fellow, to develop the goals of the project and guide project process. The Town Clerk and Treasurer supported the project process by providing data where needed.
  • Thriving Earth Exchange
    • The water testing for this project was funded by the Thriving Earth Exchange Program’s internal grant program.