La Crosse, Wisconsin

La Crosse, Wisconsin La Crosse, Wisconsin

What is the Water Quality in La Crosse, Wisconsin?

Compared to other US cities, La Crosse water quality ranks in the high range for contamination excluding Lead.

Most of their 39 contaminants have cancer-causing attributes.

  • Arsenic is at particularly high levels: 191x health guidelines.
  • La Crosse also has PFOS, a dangerous “forever chemical,” in its water supply.

Let’s look closer at what’s in La Crosse water.

What’s in La Crosse water?

Here are the top 8 chemical compounds in your water and what health issues they can potentially cause:

  1. Arsenic – Potential effect: Cancer
  2. Bromodichloromethane – Potential effect: Cancer
  3. Cadmium – Harm to the kidneys
  4. Chloroform – Potential effect: Cancer
  5. Hexavalent Chromium – Potential effect: Cancer
  6. Haloacetic acids (HAA5) – Potential effect: Cancer
  7. Nitrate – Potential effect: Cancer
  8. Total trihalomethanes – Potential effect: Cancer

These are eight of the 39 contaminants analyzed by the Environmental Working Group (

15 of these contaminants are rated as exceeding EWG Health Guidelines.

Does La Crosse have Lead contamination?

Yes, La Crosse has lead in its water. The most recent Lead samples collected in 2017 showed concentrations up to 2.3 parts per billion.

The legal limit for lead is 15 parts per billion. Being well-below this level is a good thing.

Concentrations between 3.8 ppb and 15 ppb put a formula-fed baby at risk of elevated blood lead levels. Read more about the symptoms of Lead in water.

There is no safe level of lead for humans.

The good news is that 99.99% of the lead can be filtered out.

See the What Can You Do? section below for all of the contaminants you can filter out and how to do it.

Where does La Crosse’s water come from?

La Crosse’s water comes from the City of La Crosse – Mississippi River watershed.

17 of the 19 waterbodies in the City of La Crosse – Mississippi River watershed are in Impaired or Unknown condition. These include:

  • Black River
  • Mississippi River
  • Smith Slough
  • Target Lake
  • French Lake

The only water sources in Good condition are:

  • Halfway Creek
  • Lake Onalaska

Ideally, a water source would be rated in Good condition. See below for what you can do to improve La Crosse’s water.

Learn more from How’s My Waterway here

What Can You Do?

Information about water quality in La Crosse can be surprising and downright scary.

But there are things you can do in your home to clean up your water.

To Remove Lead and Other Contaminants In Your Home:

There is one solution that beats Brita, PUR, and expensive whole house systems.

  • It costs less per gallon.
  • Needs fewer filter changes.
  • And it doesn’t make your water taste weird.

  • Use Berkey filters with activated carbon to filter out at least 83% of contaminants in La Crosse drinking water. This includes PFOS.
    • Berkey filters can also remove up to 99.99% of Lead in La Crosse water.
    • Brita can filter 20 contaminants and Lead depending on the filter.
    • Note: We may receive a commission if you decide to purchase filters through links on this page.
  • To filter out 35 of the 39 contaminants, consider a Reverse Osmosis water filtration system for your house.
    • These are typically more expensive than pitchers to purchase, but may require fewer filter changes over time.
    • They have the benefit of filtering out heavy hitters like:
      • 1,4-Dioxane
      • Aluminum
      • Arsenic
      • Barium
      • Cadmium
      • Chloroform
      • Chromium (total)
      • Mercury
      • Molybdenum
      • Nitrates
      • PFHXS
      • PFOS
      • Selenium
      • Silver
      • Strontium
      • Uranium

In Your Community:

Contact your local government officials and put pressure on them to invest in cleaner waterways and upgraded city water filtration and treatment.

Go to: to find contact information for your local officials.

Water Quality in Other Wisconsin Cities

Wisconsin Water Quality Page

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