Read the full article by Danielle Kaeding (Wisconsin Public Radio)

“Nearly 800 residents of French Island plan to take legal action against the City of La Crosse stemming from PFAS contamination of private drinking water wells. The move could expose the city to up to more than $39 million in claims. 

Attorney Tim Jacobson served the City of La Crosse notice on Friday of its intention to file a lawsuit on behalf of 787 residents of French Island. Jacobson had already served the city notice on behalf of 125 residents in February. The filing is the first step that must be taken under the law before pursuing a lawsuit against the city. 

The City of La Crosse is part of an ongoing investigation into PFAS contamination on the island stemming from the La Crosse Regional Airport. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources launched the investigation last year after the DNR flagged two city wells for the presence of PFAS, which have since been taken out of service. 

‘The city used these chemicals for decades. The city was alerted that PFAS was getting in city wells as early as 2014,’ said Jacobson. ‘But, it wasn’t until late 2020 that the public started to learn that their wells may be impacted and the residents of French Island have been drinking polluted water for years.’

The city doesn’t have to respond to the notice at this time. Jacobson said his firm will be serving the city a notice at a later date requesting a specific dollar amount as part of an itemized claim. 

‘It’s just premature at this time to start computing dollar amounts, but it certainly has impacted people’s private property value. It’s affecting their daily living, and there are folks with these health issues, serious medical problems, and even deaths that we believe are related to the PFAS exposure,’ said Jacobson…”