City of La Crosse puts PFAS-contaminated well online temporarily to flush pipes

The well's PFAS levels are just below the state's proposed enforcement standard, according to a recent lab test

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT)- The city of La Crosse put a municipal well that tested positive for PFAS temporarily back into service. 

The city’s utility manager tells News 8 Now that the city ran well 26 on the nights of June 14 and 15 to flush water pipes. Well 26, which is located on French Island, had been off line since September, when it tested positive for PFAS. 

PFAS were used to produce the firefighting foam sprayed at the La Crosse Regional Airport. The man-made compounds have been linked to infertility, thyroid disease and cancer. 

Two other city wells, also on French Island, have been offline since 2018 because of PFAS contamination. Since then, hundreds of private wells in the same area have also tested positive. In March, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources issued an interim, area-wide drinking water advisory, and has been providing free bottled water to more than 1,000 families while it investigates. 

When the city ran well 26 it resampled the water. The test found the latest PFAS level was just below the state’s proposed enforcement standard of 20ppt.

During one-on- one interview with News 8 Now, White House climate adviser Gina McCarthy said President Joe Biden is aware of the contamination in La Crosse County. McCarthy says the president’s bipartisan infrastructure framework plan would spend $55 billion on water infrastructure. 

A majority of the money will be used to replace lead pipes, but McCarthy said the president is committed to helping PFAS-contaminated communities in Western Wisconsin.

“The important thing is that we are here to keep people safe,” she said. “We are here to invest in drinking water systems again. That’s what this bill is about, and if we need to do more work to get your community where it needs to be, we are all in on that effort at well.”

If signed into law, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Plan would represent the largest infrastructure investment in American history.