A growing number of elected officials call on the City of La Crosse to test all of French Island for PFAS

TOWN OF CAMPBELL, Wis. (WKBT)- Concern is growing in the Town of Campbell where more and more wells are testing positive for a dangerous compound. The chemical sprayed at the La Crosse airport spread, according to the City’s own tests, to more than 100 private wells. There may be more. We don’t know how many, because the City refuses to test the entire Town. 

 If she lived two blocks to the east, Michelle Christopherson would know with certainty if the water in her home is safe to drink. But; Michelle can’t afford to find out. “You shouldn’t have to worry about your drinking water.”, says Christopherson. 

The Christopherson’s are worried their well is contaminated with PFAS; a man-made chemical that’been linked to infertility, thyroid disease and cancer. PFAS was used to produce the firefighting foam sprayed at the La Crosse Airport for decades. The City of La Crosse has tested more than 100 wells to south east of the airport for PFAS. All but one have come back positive for PFAS. So have others outside the City’s testing zone. 

About a half-dozen homeowners have paid up to $425 out of pocket for their own PFAS test. According to the Town of Campbell, all have come back positive, including a home three doors down from the Christopherson’s. “My husband and I are really worried about it. We had 2 dogs that died of cancer. Was it related? We don’t know.”, says Christopherson. 

The Town of Campbell has asked the City three times to test the entire island. The City said no. In a letter to La Crosse council members, County Board Supervisor Margaret Larson also called on the city to expand it’s testing site. Larson hasn’t gotten a response. “It’s a problem. It could be much broader. There could be many more people affected including people in the city.”, says Larson.

The Christopherson’s have invested in bottled water. An unexpected expense, but one that gives Michelle some piece of mind. “Its frustrating and worrisome. I sit back and think should I be cooking, or not showering, what about my kids?”, says Christopherson. All questions the Christopherson’s would have answers to, if they lived just two blocks to the east 

The Christopherson’s youngest daughter goes to Summit Elementary, which is also outside of the City of La Crosse’s testing area. The school district paid for a PFAS well test. The school is providing bottled water to students and staff while it waits for results.