Madison Water Utility Publishes Annual Drinking Water Quality Report

Thursday, April 30, 2009 - 10:27am

Madison, WI - The Madison Water Utility has released its Annual Drinking Water Quality Report in advance of National Drinking Water Week, which runs from May 3-9. Residents throughout the City of Madison have been receiving the report as an eight-page newsletter in the mail.

The report describes the source of Madison's tap water, a deep groundwater aquifer, and what citizens can do to help protect and maintain the quality and quantity of our drinking water.

According to Water Utility General Manager Tom Heikkinen, the utility continues to meet or exceed all federal and state drinking water regulations. "Additionally, we are working diligently to further reduce the occasional incidence of discolored water experienced by some customers. We recently finished installation of a $1.8 million filter system to reduce iron and manganese levels at one well that is now pumping excellent water."

The report details the chemical contaminants that have been detected in Madison's water. Most of the chemical contaminants are naturally occurring elements that arise from dissolution of the rock that forms the underground aquifer from which the utility draws the water. These substances are harmless at the levels found, but they can cause aesthetic problems. For example, hardness minerals such as calcium and magnesium leave spots or residues on dishes and fixtures; they require more soap for cleaning; and they cause scales that can clog pipes or foul appliances such as water heaters and dishwashers. Most homeowners have a water softener to remove the hardness.

Iron and manganese, other natural minerals found in the aquifer, can discolor the water if found at high enough levels. In recent years, the utility has taken aggressive steps to minimize the aesthetic concerns that can be caused by these minerals. These steps have included modifying well operations to limit the use of wells that produce higher levels of these minerals, developing and implementing an aggressive uni-directional flushing program to remove these minerals from water mains before they cause problems, and accelerating the rate at which older, lower quality pipes are being replaced.

The report also identifies the man-made contaminants that have been found at low levels in a limited number of city wells. On-going monitoring of these wells by utility staff ensures that levels remain below the federal and state safe drinking water guidelines and below levels that may cause health concerns.

Included in the report is information on the Water Utility's official water conservation program and the toilet rebate initiative that offers residents $100 to install new high-efficiency toilets to replace older, water-wasting toilets. Old high-volume toilets account for the largest amount of water used in the home.

Another initiative detailed in the report is the utility's public participation process in which citizens can provide input on proposed construction projects. And the report includes an invitation to all Madison residents to attend the utility's open house on Saturday, May 9, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 119 East Olin Avenue.

The annual report provides a snapshot of water quality for all of Madison's wells. However, for more detailed information on the specific wells that serve an address, customers are encouraged to visit our website,, or call the Water Utility, 266-4654, to obtain a detailed water quality report.


  • Gail Gawenda, Water Utility PIO608:266-9129

Water Utility