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La Crosse mayor seeks PFAS help from DNR

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The city of La Crosse is asking the state for more help in providing a remedy for PFAS pollution on French Island. 

Mayor Tim Kabat met on Wednesday with leaders of the Wisconsin DNR and local elected officials to hear the latest information on testing for PFAS chemicals in water near the La Crosse Airport. 

New spots of contamination have been found recently to the north and west of the airport, not believed to be directly connected to pollution in wells south of the airport. 

Kabat has asked the DNR for help in testing wells, identifying how far the pollution has gone, and providing safe drinking water until there’s a more permanent solution to the problem. 

The mayor says testing wells for PFAS and providing bottled water to homes is becoming too much for the city to deal with by itself.

“That was a main reason for why we are asking the state to step in,” said Kabat. “This is beyond the city’s ability. We’ve been going this alone now for several years, expending hundreds of thousands of dollars and staff hours to identify what’s going on.”    

The mayor also is requesting a waiver from the FAA, so the airport can use firefighting foam which doesn’t contain PFAS.  Use of that foam is being blamed for much of the groundwater pollution.  Kabat says the agency doesn’t seem to be granting any PFAS waivers for now.  

A native of Prairie du Chien, Brad graduated from UW - La Crosse and has worked in radio news for more than 30 years, mostly in the La Crosse area. He regularly covers local courts and city and county government. Brad produces the features "Yesterday in La Crosse" and "What's Buried on Brad's Desk." He also writes the website "Triviazoids," which finds odd connections between events that happen on a certain date, and he writes and performs with the local comedy group Heart of La Crosse. Brad been featured on several national TV programs because of his memory skills.