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La Crosse County ready to have referendum supporting clean water policies

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All in favor of having clean water, say “aye.” 

La Crosse County voters may soon get a chance to approve a referendum calling for Wisconsin to establish a “right to clean water.”  The county board voted on Thursday night to prepare for an April referendum, calling on Wisconsin elected officials to improve water quality.

A resolution calling for the referendum cites the PFAS pollution problem on French Island, as well as concerns about toxic algae and frequent severe flooding in the area.

David Hundt is one county supervisor who thinks a referendum on water quality isn’t necessary.

“If we do it, I’m gonna bet that it’s 98 per cent of the people saying ‘Yeah, I want clean water, who wouldn’t?'” Hundt told the county board.   

Hundt suggested just sending a letter to the governor, supporting clean water.

Supporters, including state Assemblyman Steve Doyle, argue that state leaders will pay more attention to water issues if a county-wide referendum passes, as opposed to a letter from one county board.

“This is a big deal” for the people of French Island, Doyle said. “To give them the opportunity to say, hey, this is important to us, I hope it comes in at 98 per cent.”

A motion to send the referendum idea back to committee was defeated. 

It will cost the county about $5000 to prepare an April referendum, to be held at the same time as the elections for county board members.

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.

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