Apr 14, 2021

Madison Water Utility Releases Plan to Mitigate PFAS at Well 15

The city of Madison, Wisconsin, released a tentative plan to mitigate per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) contamination at Well 15.


The city of Madison, Wisconsin released a tentative plan to mitigate per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) contamination at one of its wells. 

According to Wort FR News, Well 15 has been shut down since Mar. 2019. Madison Water Utility first discovered PFAS in two Madison wells in 2017 while conducting limited testing at wells near landfills and the airport.

According to Madison Water Utility, the utility completed a $50,000 feasibility study looking at possible PFAS treatment at Well 15 and the utility will determine the implications of installing a treatment system at the well. According to Madison Water Utility, the utility believes the chemicals detected in that well likely migrated from Truax Air Field and it is unclear where PFAS chemicals found in other city wells are coming from.

The well is located in northeast Madison, approximately a mile away from the Truax Air Field, the site of the Wisconsin Air National Guard and current home to F-16 fighter jets and future home to the contested F-35 jets, added Wort FR News. 

According to the utility’s report analyzing possible solutions to fix the contamination, the primary objective of this study was to evaluate treatment technologies and develop capital and annual operating cost estimates for effective treatments that would:

  • Remove PFAS, PCE, and TCE;
  • Return Well 15 to a production rate of 1000 gallons per minute (gpm); And
  • Eliminate the use of the current air stripper.

The report ultimately recommends using a filtering system that uses activated carbon. 

According to Joe Grande, Madison’s water quality manager, in order to receive approval from the state the filtering system will need to be able to filter down approximately 90% of PFAS from the well’s water.

“This is the initial step in terms of identifying a process that can reduce PFAS. We have not made any decisions on whether we’ll move forward with that,” said Grande, reported Wort FR News. “Later this year, we’ll be looking at a process to determine if this is the most cost-effective way for making up this lost supply of water on the east side when we shut down Well 15.”

In 2018, an analysis commissioned by the city linked the contamination to nearby Truax Airfield, where the Air National Guard had used firefighting foam laden with PFAS. 

According to the Water Utility, the PFAS contamination at Well 15 does not exceed state or federal drinking water standards but the well will remain closed while the state’s Department of Health Services drafts new groundwater standards for Perfluorohexanesulfonic Acid (PFHxS). 

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