La Crosse County residents could vote on nonbinding referendum about clean water in April

LA CROSSE COUNTY (WKBT) — La Crosse County residents may have the chance to vote next spring on a non-binding referendum about Wisconsin’s environment.

Access to clean drinking water has been a hot topic of discussion in our community for quite some time.

The purpose of the non-binding referendum would be to let state lawmakers know water contamination is a problem that appears to keep growing.

Hundreds of Town of Campbell families already lack safe drinking water.

Their private wells are contaminated with PFAS, dangerous man-made chemicals linked to diseases, like cancer.

And now, La Crosse County’s elected officials are continuing the conversation about having clean water for everyone.

“Something needs to be done,” La Crosse County Board Chair Monica Kruse said. “And this is a nationwide problem.”

The County Executive Committee passed a resolution Wednesday for a nonbinding referendum about clean water to be added to the spring ballot in April.

Kruse says the “yes” or “no” question would ask county voters if the state should establish a right to clean water.

The referendum would be used just to get voters’ thoughts on the topic.

“I think it’s going to be a very expensive undertaking,” Kruse said. “It’s not easy.”

The county probably doesn’t have enough money to provide clean water for everyone, she said.

“In the Town of Campbell, that can cost tens of millions of dollars to remediate,” Kruse said.

Campbell Supervisor Lee Donahue says putting this question on the ballot is a great idea.

“This is an opportunity for every Campbell resident as well as every county resident to have their voice heard,” Donahue said. “And they can say this is so critical to us.”

Other Wisconsin counties have put this advisory question on their ballots, Kruse said.

Which is why she says it was a good time for La Crosse County to do so.

“Even if it’s just a philosophical statement, I think it’s important that we support this,” Kruse said.

A statement that Kruse hopes leads to local and state lawmakers to work together to make our drinking water safe.

Kruse says the county board will take a final vote on whether to include the non-binding referendum on spring ballots next week.

She expects the vote will pass.

Kruse says it would cost about $5,000 to get the referendum on county ballots.

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