Read the full article by Hope Kirwan (WPR)

“Dale and Mary Wetterling built their dream home on French Island more than 30 years ago.

The island sits between the Mississippi and Black rivers and is home to the Town of Campbell, as well as part of the city of La Crosse and the La Crosse Regional Airport.

While the Wetterlings’ adult children moved out long ago, the two retired school teachers have a new housemate these days — Aqua Maria.

That’s the name Mary gave their Culligan water dispenser when it arrived last fall after the couple found out their well was contaminated with PFAS.

‘I felt that bringing this new thing into our house, it had to have a name, right? I mean you bring a child into the world, you give them a name, some people name their boats,’ Mary said.

Polyfluoroalkyl Substances, often called PFAS or “forever chemicals,” are chemicals that don’t break down in the environment and are related to adverse health effects like increased cholesterol, cancer and thyroid disease.

In 2019, the state Department of Natural Resources ordered the City of La Crosse to conduct an investigation into PFAS contamination previously found in two city-owned wells on French Island. Officials believe the chemicals came from the use of fire fighting foam at and around the airport.

In October, the city notified around 120 French Island households that they could be affected by the contamination and offered to test their private wells. When many of those tests started coming back with some level of PFAS, residents started doing their own well testing and so did the DNR.

So far, 533 private wells have been tested on the island and all but 12 had traces of PFAS. Thirty-one percent, or 164 wells, had PFAS levels deemed unsafe for drinking water by the state Department of Health Services.”…