City of La Crosse asks Wisconsin DNR to test wells for PFAS contamination

La Crosse County Board chair says mayor's request letter 'clearly points to private wells in the City of La Crosse being contaminated with PFAS'
Pfas In Homes

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) — Concerns about water contamination in the La Crosse area are growing. So much so that the city of La Crosse is asking the state for help. 

Beginning in the fall of 2020, the city tested for and found “PFAS” compounds in more than 100 private wells around the airport.  The man-made chemicals were used to produce the firefighting foam sprayed at the La Crosse Regional Airport for decades. “PFAS” has been linked to infertility, thyroid disease, and cancer. 

La Crosse Mayor Tim Kabat and County Board Chairwoman Monica Kruse are asking the Wisconsin DNR to help test more wells around the airport and beyond.  The city has acknowledged and taken responsibility only for the contaminated wells south and east of the airport. Those homes are located in the Town of Campbell. For months, the town has asked the city to expand testing to the entire island. The city refused, even after multiple homeowner, outside the city’s testing area, paid for their own test and found their wells were also contaminated. 

In his letter to the DNR, Kabat asked the DNR to test and identify the boundaries of contamination in the La Crosse area and to provide safe drinking water to the La Crosse community. Kabat’s letters goes onto say the contamination affects areas in the Town of Campbell, La Crosse County, and the city. 

News 8 Now asked Kabat how many private wells in the city of La Crosse are contaminated and where they are located. The mayor didn’t answer our questions. However, Kruse says the mayor’s letter to the DNR  “clearly points to private wells in the City of La Crosse being contaminated with PFAS.”

I don’t know all the details about that, but I know that wells have tested positive that we were not even suspecting that were in that area of contamination. I think the contamination is more widespread than we initially suspected,” Kruse says.

Testing wells for PFAS is expensive.  A single test can cost more than $400. In his letter, Kabat asked the DNR to immediately test the La Crosse community. Kabat and Kruse want a sit down meeting with the  DNR. A DNR representative said the agency is “evaluating the city’s request.”