City of La Crosse hires attorneys to fight water contamination problems on French Island

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT)- The La Crosse Common Council voted Thursday evening to approve hiring two law firms to represent the city in litigation against chemical companies involved in the PFAS contamination on French Island.

Both the Finance & Personnel Committee and the full council approved the move.

La Crosse Mayor Tim Kabat said on Tuesday the city was planning to file suit against the manufacturers of the chemicals and he strongly encouraged impacted residents to join forces with their effort.

125 people from the Town of Campbell have well water that is contaminated with the hazardous PFAS chemical. The man-made chemical was used to produce the fire-fighting foam that was sprayed at the La Crosse Airport for decades.

This fall, the city learned PFAS was in the ground at the airport, and spread to more than 100 private wells, according to the city’s own tests.

The PFAS levels in nearly half of the homes are so high, the water is unsafe to drink, cook with, or use to brush your teeth.

The city could also be facing a lawsuit of its own.

Earlier this week, Attorney Tim Jacobson who represents 125 residents in the Town of Campbell, served the city a “notice of circumstances of claim and injury” which is required by law before a party can sue a municipality.

Mayor Kabat said, “Personally, I do not understand why Attorney Jacobson is trying to sow division between the residents of Campbell and the City of La Crosse, as we are both victims of these manufactured chemicals and have been negatively impacted.”

“Our hope and goal is that we can negotiate informally and amicably with the city to find a resolution that works for the citizens of French Island,” said Jacobson.

Jacobson is also planning to take action against the chemical manufacturers and said he hopes the city will work with him.