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Sen. Baldwin learns about French Island PFAS trouble from well owners, city leaders

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Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisconsin) meets with Town of Campbell community leaders to discuss PFAS contamination in the wells there. (PHOTO: Brad Williams).

U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin came to the La Crosse area Friday to learn more about the local PFAS pollution problems on French Island.

Baldwin took part in a roundtable discussion with Town of Campbell officials and island residents, who have been forced to use bottled water for well over a year, because of high levels of PFAS chemicals in their private wells.

The citizens that met with Baldwin included Mary Wilder, who spoke about neighbors having trouble handling the heavy bottles of water they need to use instead of getting water from their tap.

She said she could afford to put in a filtration system at her home but not everyone on French Island can.

After the meeting at the Campbell community center, the senator met with La Crosse Mayor Mitch Reynolds and other city officials at a La Crosse city well near the airport, which has been shut down because of PFAS contamination.

Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisconsin) meets with La Crosse water superintendent Lee Anderson at a city well near the La Crosse Regional Airport on Friday, May 13, 2022 (PHOTO: Brad Williams).

The local pollution has been blamed on the long-term use of firefighting foam at the airport, which is still required by the FAA.

Baldwin has sponsored a “Healthy H2O Act,” to provide grants for water testing and treatment directly to families with private wells.

“I want to get it probably made a part of the farm bill, because that’s where this funding for rural drinking water should be, so we’re working towards that,” Baldwin said.

Reynolds thanked the Senator for her help in getting money to La Crosse to deal with PFAS.

“Assuming that we have some success here, not only will this help our community, but provide a model for other communities that are facing similar challenges,” Reynolds said.

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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