Madison Water Utility Board orders action after chemicals were found in two wells

MADISON (WKOW) — After hearing concerns from people in the community about chemicals found in two wells, the Madison Water Utility Board voted to take a number of actions.

The chemicals, called PFAS, have been detected at two wells — Well 16 on Mineral Point Road and Well 15 off East Washington Avenue.

In response to the concerns from the public, the board voted Tuesday night to take the following actions:

  • Directed MWU to provide a proposal, plan and cost estimate for extensive testing of all 23 municipal wells for PFAS. The utility provided the Board with a rough coast estimate of between $7,000 – 10,000 to carry out the same testing being conducted at Well 15 at all wells. Madison Water Utility tested all wells for PFAS in 2015 and nothing was detected. In 2017, it used a more sensitive testing method to look for PFAS at wells near the airport or old landfills, where PFAS are most likely to be found.
  • Requested outreach by Public Health Madison Dane County to vulnerable populations in the Well 15 service area, including families with infants and children.
  • Directed MWU staff to draft a letter to Wisconsin’s representatives in Congress requesting that funds be allocated for the development of an action plan for a groundwater study and remediation at Truax Air Field
  • Requested that Public Health Madison Dane County reach out to health officials in more states that have set their own drinking water standards for PFAS. Public Health has already been in contact with officials in Vermont, but agreed to contact officials in Minnesota and New Jersey as well.
  • Directed MWU staff to put together a contingency plan for shutting down Wells 15 and 16.
  • Moved to draft a letter to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources urging the setting of a state drinking water standard for PFAS. A similar letter was sent by State Senator Dave Hansen. Alders Ahrens and Rummel also stated that they would introduce action at the Common Council to create a PFAS task force, bringing together city, county and state agencies to address the issue. They hope to also include officials from the Wisconsin Air National Guard.
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