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5 things Madison will do to fix contaminated wells

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Madison, WI - The Madison Water Utility Board has come up with an action plan following Tuesday’s meeting on contaminants in two wells in the city.

Testing over the last year has shown elevated levels of different types of PFAS chemicals in a well on Madison’s east side and a well on the west side. Both wells test below the EPA Health Advisory Level of 70 parts per trillion.

After hearing from residents on Tuesday, the water utility board has decided to implement the following actions:

1.Develop plan for testing on all Madison wells.

Though the city has already tested every well in Madison, the two that have shown elevated levels of PFAS chemicals were tested at a more sensitive level. This action would make the Madison Water Utility do that same level of testing at all wells in the city. The utility said that will cost between $7,000 and $10,000, according to a release from Madison Water Utility.

2.Reach out to vulnerable populations in contamination zones.

In the meeting Tuesday, the Madison Water Utility water quality manager Joe Grande said PFAS chemicals have a high environmental risk and human health risks. After the meeting, the board requested that Public Health Madison Dane County reach out to vulnerable populations, including families with infants and children, served by these contaminated wells.

The Madison Water Utility also requested that the department reach out to health officials in states that have set their own drinking water standards for PFAS.

3.Involve Washington.

The city has determined the PFAS contamination came from firefighting foam from Truax Field, though a representative from the Madison Water Utility said the Wisconsin National Guard likely won’t pay for remediation since the tests showed levels far below any federal standards.

The Madison Water Utility Board wants to reach out to Wisconsin’s representatives in Congress to request that funds be allocated for a groundwater study and remediation at Truax Air Field.

4.Directed staff to potentially shut down contaminated wells.

Two wells tested positive for elevated levels of PFAS chemicals. The wells are located on East Washington Avenue and Mineral Point Road. On Tuesday the Madison Water Utility Board directed utility staff to put together a contingency plan for shutting down those wells.

5.Create lasting change.

The water utility board decided Tuesday the members will write a letter to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources urging them to set a state drinking water standard for PFAS. Alders on the board said they would introduce action at Madison Common Council to create a PFAS task force. They said they hope to include officials from the Wisconsin Air National Guard.

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