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City of La Crosse offers free well tests for PFAS contamination near airport

Kaitlyn Riley

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Image by Boris Trost from Pixabay

The city of La Crosse is concerned about well water contamination in nearly 130 homes.

The Wisconsin DNR recommended La Crosse investigate contamination near the airport after municipal wells tested for elevated levels of per- and polyfluorinated alkyl substances (PFAS) in 2014 and 2016. PFAS are manmade chemicals that have been linked to cancer and other illnesses. Experts believe the source is firefighting foam.

The City of La Crosse announced Monday that the City is working with environmental consultants, The OS Group, on the issue.

“I know there are a number of communities with well and water supply next to airports that are having to deal with the same issue, so we are doing everything we can to protect the public’s health and safety, especially when it comes to their drinking water supply,” La Crosse Mayor Tim Kabat said.

At this time, the extent of the contamination is uknown. Recent sampling indicated low levels of affected groundwater may be moving off site in a southeasterly direction. The city plans to offer testing to residents downstream from the airport.

“The proposed standards are very, very low,” John Storlie, a hydrogeologist for the State of Wisconsin said. “They are 20 parts per trillion. That is like 20 eyedrops in an Olympic-sized pool.”

The City of La Crosse will collect water samples from more than twice the number of private potable wells recommended by the Wisconsin DNR, according tot he city. Water samples will be collected starting in late October through early November. Residents are not required to have their wells sampled.

The city is prepared to give bottled water to impacted homes.

Kaitlyn Riley’s passion for communications started on her family’s dairy farm in Gays Mills, Wis. Wanting to share agriculture’s story, she studied strategic communications and broadcast journalism at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In college, she held officer positions with the Association of Women in Agriculture and Badger Dairy Club while volunteering as a news reporter for the college radio station. She also founded the university’s first agricultural radio talk show, AgChat. In her professional career, Kaitlyn has worked in radio, print and television news doing everything from covering local events to interviewing presidential candidates, and putting back on her barn boots to chat with farmers in the field. Today, Kaitlyn can be seen covering local stories that matter to you in the La Crosse area.

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