MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Nearly 800 residents of French Island plan to sue the city of La Crosse stemming from contamination of private drinking water wells from chemicals known as PFAS, a move that could expose the city to up to more than $39 million in claims.
Attorney Tim Jacobson served the city notice on Friday of its intention to file a lawsuit on behalf of 787 residents of French Island. Jacobson filed a similar document on behalf of 125 residents in February. The filing is the first step that must be taken under the law before pursuing a complaint against the city.
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources last year launched an investigation that includes the city of La Crosse regarding contamination on the island stemming from the La Crosse Regional Airport. The DNR flagged two city wells for the presence of PFAS, which have since been taken out of service, Wisconsin Public Radio reported.
“The city used these chemicals for decades. The city was alerted that PFAS was getting in city wells as early as 2014,” Jacobson said. “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.”
La Crosse Mayor Mitch Reynolds said he had not yet seen the filing on Friday and couldn’t comment on any pending legal action.