MAPS gets proactive with PFAS
The Merrill Area Public School District was recently notified by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) that water samples taken in August at the Pine River School for Young Learners (PRSYL) indicate the presence of PFAS that exceed the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) recommended health guidelines. Water that contains PFAS that exceeds recommended health guidelines, while considered safe for cleaning, handwashing, etc., is not recommended for drinking or other direct consumption.
According to MAPS Superintendent of Schools, Shannon Murray, “Receiving this information and report a week before school starts certainly provides extra challenges to the matter, but we wanted to work with the DNR and DHS to find immediate solutions to safeguard the wellness of our students and staff. We believe we’ve accomplished that.”
At this time, according to the DNR, MAPS is only mandated to notify the Pine River School For Young Learners population of the findings and no other actions are required. However, MAPS is taking this finding and report seriously and will take the following, voluntary, actions to ensure that staff, students and families are safe at PRSYL:
● MAPS will supply bottled water to PRSYL for all drinking, brushing of teeth, etc.,
● All meal preparation that requires the use of water will be done in the MHS kitchen and will be transported to PRSYL,
● Ongoing water testing, with the support of the DNR, will take place each quarter,
● Begin exploring the feasibility of short term alternatives to bottled water including point-of-use water treatment solutions,
● And work with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to understand and evaluate long term solutions.
PRSYL families were notified of this development, and the subsequent plan, electronically and by mail which included additional information regarding PFAS, etc.
In his communication to families, PRSYL Director Ryan Martinovici shared, “We realize that the voluntary changes outlined above will create inconveniences for our students and staff at PRSYL. However, the health and wellness of those we serve is of utmost importance to us and we believe these steps are warranted until a long term solution is found.”
District administration and the MAPS school board will continue to work with the Wisconsin DNR and the Wisconsin Department of Health Services to identify long term solutions to this issue.

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