The number of French island wells contaminated by PFAS exceeds 500

New figures come as Wisconsin DNR holds first public hearing to set PFAS drinking water safety standards

CITY OF CAMPBELL, Wisconsin (WKBT) More than 500 French island wells have tested positive for PFAS. The new figures come the same day the Wisconsin DNR held its first public hearing to set PFAS drinking water safety standards.

Wisconsin is a long way from adopting applicable drinking water standards. A DNR speaker doesn’t expect this to happen until 2024.

PFAS are a group of synthetic compounds used to make many products, including fire fighting foam sprayed at the La Crosse Regional Airport. The chemicals are linked to infertility, thyroid disease, and cancer.

The City of La Crosse tested and found PFAS in wells around the airport last year. The DNR intervened to test other wells. Since June 3, 538 private and public wells in the French islands tested positive for PFAS.

Contamination is not unique. There are dozens of PFAS contamination sites in Wisconsin anand hundreds nationwide. Our neighbors, Minnesota and Michigan, have already set maximum levels for drinking water contamination by PFAS. Wisconsin is just getting started. MNR held its first public comment hearing on June 4. Campbell town supervisor Lee Donahue was one of more than half a dozen people to testify in favor of setting safety standards. Donahue says clean water is a human right. “On the island where I live, 4,000 people now drink bottled water because our private wells are contaminated with PFAS,” says Donahue.

Only one speaker opposed the rule. Craig Summerfield represented Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce. Summerfield raised concerns about, among other things, the cost. “Given the large and unknown costs of these recommended standards, this practice is deeply troubling,” says Summerfield

The MRN will take in writing public comments until June 10

In March, the Wisconsin DNR issued a provisional advisory on the quality of drinking water across the region. The DNR provides free bottled water to island families, but they will need a permanent source of clean drinking water.

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