French Island residents voice frustration at PFAS water contamination session

TOWN OF CAMPBELL, Wis. (WKBT) — State and federal lawmakers listened to residents of French Island and their concerns regarding contaminated drinking water. Wisconsin officials say PFAS is no longer a Western Wisconsin issue — it’s a problem that needs federal attention and funding.

Bottled water can last only so long.

“The state of Wisconsin estimates, right now, they’ve spent $500-600 thousand dollars right now on bottled water,” said State Sen. Brad Pfaff, D-Onalaska.

For residents of the Town of Campbell, bottled water is their only safe source of drinking water.

“My neighbors, you hear the stories of how it affects their families and their neighbors and you know, it’s close to home,” said resident Dan Wuttke.

PFAS are forever chemicals found in firefighting foam and thousands of other products. PFAS have contaminated wells on French Island, making tap water unsafe to drink for over a year.

“We need to solve the problem we’ve got in front of us. We’re not like other municipalities, we’ve got individual wells,” Pfaff said.

Nearly 100 residents came to the PFAS listening session to hear officials and speak up about how the contamination has affected them.

“Every resident needs to have their voice heard,” said Campbell Supervisor Lee Donahue.

Wisconsin officials say the problem goes beyond the Town of Campbell and requires funding from the federal level to be solved.

“There are other hotspots around the state of Wisconsin that are in the same situation as we are,” said U.S. Rep. Ron Kind, D-La Crosse.

State officials are looking to create an action plan on how to solve the issue. Campbell officials the first step is to draft a new water agreement – one that will prevent Campbell from being annexed to the City of La Crosse.

“Without a water agreement that is updated and amended, we can’t move forward,” Donahue said.

Residents say they appreciate the work Wisconsin state officials have done, and encouraged people to vote for those who will pass state standards for PFAS levels.

Kind, Pfaff and State Rep. Jill Billings, D-La Crosse, hope to get a meeting with Gov. Tony Evers, but  say they can’t move forward until that action plan is made. They’re encouraging residents to write letters so they can present them to the governor.

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