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Committee confirms $25,000 in bottled water for PFAS contamination on French Island
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Committee confirms $25,000 in bottled water for PFAS contamination on French Island

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A committee approved spending $25,000 in bottled water service for residents in the town of Campbell whose drinking water has been contaminated.

The move comes just several days ahead of a planned public information session, where results from well water tests conducted in recent months are expected to be announced.

Officials did not confirm at Thursday night’s Finance & Personnel Committee that those tests revealed any drinking water contamination, though bottled water was the remedial plan offered by the city when the testing initiative was announced, signaling some level of contamination was found.

“The city of La Crosse desires to fund bottled water service for town of Campbell residents negatively impacted due to Perfluoroalkyl and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) in drinking water,” the spending resolution reads.

Members of the Finance & Personnel Committee approved the funding Thursday night, using dollars from the city’s contingency fund, along with money for the pandemic and flood mitigation.

The city offered free well water testing for between 120 and 130 wells on French Island that reside downstream from the La Crosse Regional Airport.

A “forever chemical,” known as Polyfluoroalkyl Substances, or PFAS, was detected in two city wells and groundwater samples several years ago near the airport, suspected to have originated from firefighting foam.

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Mayor Tim Kabat

La Crosse Mayor Tim Kabat.

There was no discussion on the drinking water by the commission or other officials at Thursday’s meeting.

The funding was attached to two other spending moves from the contingency fund — $40,000 in floodplain engineering and $100,000 in COVID-19 supplies — which will use more than half of the city’s rainy day dollars.

The COVID-19 dollars will be set aside to use in the event additional supplies throughout the city are needed, such as masks, gloves, wipes and more, officials said.

La Crosse Mayor Tim Kabat took the fall for the spending, saying additional COVID relief should have been considered during the city’s budget process.

“In retrospect — and I take responsibility — we should have included a COVID fund in our budget discussions, and with everything that we went through that slipped through the cracks,” he said.

Finance officials said the city has no CARES Act dollars left to reimburse the possible spending, but are hopeful new Democratic leaders in D.C. will usher in more relief.

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