LA CROSSE, Wis. — State environmental regulators are prepared to spend more than a half million dollars a year to provide bottled water to nearly 1,200 households on French Island due to concerns about contaminated drinking water.
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and Department of Health Services have issued a drinking water advisory indefinitely and continue to make bottled water available to as many as 4,300 residents on the island near La Crosse.
The concern is over PFAS contamination from testing or use of firefighting foam containing the chemical at the La Crosse Regional Airport on French Island.
The so-called "forever chemical" raised concern because its among those that have been linked to an increased risk of kidney and testicular cancers, thyroid disease and fertility issues. The chemicals are found in firefighting foam and everyday products like nonstick cookware, and don't break down easily in the environment.
The DNR is providing bottled water to 1,162 households with money from the agency's environmental repair fund. The agency has spent just under $96,000 for services invoiced through the end of May, but the agency expects to spend $550,000 to $600,000 a year on French Island, Wisconsin Public Radio reported.
"We had to defund other projects in the state in order to fund bottled water for French Island. So, it is a strain on our fund, and we feel, though, that it's necessary that we continue to fund this project," said DNR project manager Dave Rozeboom. "So, we will do so for the foreseeable future, as long as we have the funding to support that."