Jan 14, 2021

Homeowners Offered Water Bottles After Elevated PFAS Levels Discovered Near Wisconsin Airport

Elevated PFAS levels were found near La Crosse Airport.


Dozens of homeowners near the La Crosse airport in La Crosse County, Wisconsin, are being offered bottled water after testing of private wells showed levels of PFAS contamination. 

Nine wells had levels of the chemicals 50 times higher than Wisconsin’s recommended groundwater standard for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).

The findings are part of well and groundwater sampling which began in the town of Campbell in October, reported Wisconsin Public Radio.

The results were reported Jan. 12 by the city's environmental consultant, the OS Group. The results are part of an investigation into PFAS contamination at the airport, which was initiated after the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources flagged two city wells for the presence of PFAS last year. Said wells are no longer in use, reported Wisconsin Public Radio.

40 of 109 private wells tested last fall showed PFAS levels above the state's recommended groundwater standard of 20 ppt. 

"I would like to believe that we've acted as quickly as possible since October to get testing done to get results back and to get safe water to those people that have exceeded that 20 parts per trillion," said La Crosse Mayor Tim Kabat.

The highest levels recorded were around 3,200 ppt, according to John Storlie, the city's consultant with the OS Group. Test results are still pending on 14 samples, however.

Bottled water has been recommended by the Department of Health Services and to the residents for drinking, cooking purposes and brushing teeth.  

Bottled water was provided to 32 homes with PFAS contamination, four homes either declined or did not respond to the offers of bottled water, and four wells were not a source of drinking water, reported Wisconsin Public Radio.

The city's consultant plans to resample around 10 wells that tested just below the state's recommended standard. Letters will also be sent to about 50 residents to conduct sampling in an expanded area around the airport. 

According to Storlie, the best way for residents to deal with contamination is to treat the water or connect to the La Crosse public water supply. The city council will discuss next steps on Jan. 14 and options to provide clean drinking water to those residents, which includes the potential for providing city water to private well owners, reported Wisconsin Public Radio.

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