Aug 11, 2020

Madison Water Utility finds PFAS in City Wells

Madison Water Utility has been conducting advanced testing of the city’s 23 water wells.

madison city well

Madison Water Utility completed its annual comprehensive testing for PFAS in the city’s drinking water wells. 

The results show at least some PFAS are present in every Madison, Wisconsin well, with total amounts ranging from 2.5 to 47 ppt, according to the city. All wells tested show PFAS levels below the proposed safe drinking water limit by the considered Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR). 

Currently, PFAS chemicals are not yet regulated in drinking water, but a regulatory limit could be announced by the DNR next year, added the city. Full test results can be found here.  

Madison Water Utility detected PFOA and/or PFOS in 16 wells, with estimated levels of ranging from 0.5 to 3.4 parts per trillion. The water utility also found a broad range of other types of PFAS chemicals during its testing, most of which are not regulated by any state and others which are regulated at much higher levels than PFOA and PFOS.

For example, over 80% of the PFAS detected in Well 9 is a single chemical, PFBA. Madison Water Utility found a total PFAS concentration in Well 9 of 47 ppt, with 37 ppt coming from PFBA, added the city.

“We are fortunate that levels are so low here in Madison. The same can’t be said for every community. When detected, PFAS were found at levels well below the safe level in drinking water recommended by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services,” said Joe Grande, water quality manager for Madison Water Utility.

According to Grande, the city is going to keep testing and monitoring every well in the city.

Madison Water Utility first began testing for a spectrum of PFAS chemicals at all city wells in 2019. This was a response to concerned community members who petitioned the Water Utility Board for monitoring, added the city. Over the past two years, Madison Water Utility has invested more than $30,000 testing Madison’s drinking water for PFAS chemicals.

Madison Water Utility will test all operating wells again in 2021.

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