First Jt Meeting of Health, Water Boards on Water Quality Issues

June 19, 2006

Madison – This week’s first-ever joint meeting between the Madison Board of Water Commissioners and the Board of Health for Madison and Dane County kicked off a long-term collaboration on water quality issues, according to Mayor Dave Cieslewicz and the chairs of the two boards.

Mayor Cieslewicz requested the meeting be held to help address questions that have arisen regarding Madison’s water supply. At the meeting, citizens were able to learn more about water quality issues, offer testimony and ask questions of both Public Health and Water Utility staff and board members.

“My plan to protect and improve Madison’s water supply called for closer collaboration between public health experts and water utility experts,” said Cieslewicz. “This week’s meeting was a good first step, and I look forward to these two organizations working closely together in the future to ensure that we have the highest-quality, safest drinking water supply possible.”

In addition to this week’s joint meeting, the mayor’s plan calls for Dr. Thomas Schlenker, the Director of Public Health, to be named as an ex officio member of the Board of Water Commissioners, to ensure that public health has a consistent and ongoing presence in discussions of water utility issues.

Scientific research on health effects from excess manganese intake presented at this week’s joint hearing suggested that it is unlikely that any Madison citizen has suffered or will suffer a health problem due to manganese. Information was presented showing how common foods such as grape juice, pasta, and multi-vitamins contain far more manganese than drinking water. There was also information presented showing that, of the 300-plus exterior spigot samples tested thus far from the Well #3 and Well #10 areas, only two tested at levels above the EPA’s lifetime health advisory limit for manganese (both locations are being retested at this time). The Water Utility and Health Departments are continuing to collect and evaluate data in this regard.

“Tonight’s reports are very reassuring to me as a citizen and doctor that this may be an aesthetic issue more than a health concern,” said Dr. Schwartzstein. “Dr. Schlenker’s drinking advisory for the most affected well service areas is the correct action, however, until we are certain of that fact. The Board of Health has a responsibility to protect and improve the public’s health, and therefore will work closely with the Water Board in their efforts to insure safe water for our citizens.”
At the meeting, board members decided to continue their direct collaboration. The boards decided to hold a second joint meeting in the fall once additional data has been collected at the completion of this season’s flushing program, and recommendations are ready to be made for further action.

“Madisonians have the right to expect clean and safe drinking water,” said Mather. “I strongly believe that the Water Utility will benefit from the expertise of those involved in public health, and public health experts will benefit from a better understanding of the issues and challenges faced by the Water Utility. Most importantly, the public will benefit from an ongoing, focused effort by experts in both fields to protect and improve our drinking water.”

The meeting concluded with the unanimous adoption by both boards of the following resolution:

“The Board of Health for Madison and Dane County and the Board of Water Commissioners recognize the critical importance of water safety for our citizens and agree to work in collaboration to evaluate and insure its safety; and

“The Board of Health for Madison and Dane County and the Board of Water Commissioners support the current measures being taken by Dr. Thomas Schlenker and David Denig-Chakroff for that purpose; and

“The Board of Health for Madison and Dane County and the Board of Water Commissioners support Mayor Dave Cieslewicz’s ten point plan to protect and improve Madison’s drinking water supply.”

Contact:
  • George Twigg, Mayor's Office, 608-266-4611
  • Dr. Alan Schwartzstein, Chair, Bd of Health for Ma, 608-279-5671
  • Percy Mather, Chair, Madison Board of Water Commis, 608-233-1955