The State of Wisconsin issues an interim area-wide drinking water advisory for the Town of Campbell

Businesses step up to offer free bottled water while DNR makes plans to deliver water to homeowners
Pfas Water Donation At Six

TOWN OF CAMPBELL, Wis. (WKBT)- The state of Wisconsin is stepping in to help the Town of Campbell, where close to 200 wells are contaminated with dangerous man-made chemicals.

Under the interim area-wide drinking water advisory, the DNR will continue to provide water to any family on French Island if they are not already getting bottled water from the City of La Crosse.

As News 8 Now first reported in January, the wells are contaminated with PFAS; man-made compounds that have been linked in infertility, Thyroid disease, and cancer. PFAS was used to produce the firefighting foam sprayed at the La Crosse airport for decades. According to the DNR, It spread through the groundwater and into private wells off airport property.

As of March 25, 184 wells have tested positive for PFAS; roughly half at levels above what the state considers safe. There could be more. We don’t know how many, because the City of La Crosse has refused to test the entire island.

The DNR’s advisory is significant. It frees up money for the DNR to provide bottled water to any resident not already receiving bottled water through the city. It also allows the DNR yo expand testing to neighborhoods outside the City of La Crosse’s testing area. “It’s an art and science to find out where this groundwater contamination is moving. So, it won’t always be self-evident on exactly where to sample, but we will do our best right now to get a general overview of where we think the private contamination has moved to.”, says DNR’s Darsi Foss.

The DNR can’t say how widespread the contamination is, or if the city is responsible for all of it. The DNR will provide free bottled water while it investigates.

Businesses are also stepping up to help. Kwik Trip, Hy-Vee, and CVS donated more than 25,000 gallons of bottled water. The goal is to give each family enough water to by until the DNR can start delivering water to their homes.

A spokeswoman for Hy-Vee says the company is happy to help. “Our motto is to make lives easier. We live by our motto. We want to help”, says Hy-Vee’s Heather Geariety.

Homeowner and Town Supervisor Ralph Thoren says the free -safe water gives Town residents a bit of peace of mind. “It’s a day when we have some positives instead of negatives on the island. It’s just a different vibe when people come through the line. It’s just a weight that’s been lifted temporarily”, says Thoren.

Another small business is also stepping up to help. Larson’s General on Main Street in downtown La Crosse has its own reverse osmosis system. The owners don’t live on the island, but understand the importance of clean water. They’ve invited French Island families to bring their own containers and fill them with free, safe water at their store. Co-owner, Josh Larson says it’s the right thing to do. “It’s not free for us, but we have it and its filtering water whether we use it or not. So, somebody might as well use it”, says Larson.

Free water is also available at the Town of Campbell town hall. Call or email the Town of Campbell to set up a pick-up time.