Release of Annual Report to Coincide with National Drinking Water Week

May 5, 2008

Madison, WI - Madison Water Utility is releasing its Annual Drinking Water Quality Report to coincide with National Drinking Water Week, which runs from May 4-10. Over the next week, customers throughout the City of Madison will receive 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. The report references Operation Clean Sweep for the disposal of household hazardous chemicals and unused medicines. A Med Drop event is currently scheduled for June 7 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at 121 E Olin Avenue. It also provides links to on-line resources for reducing one's use of toxic substances around the house, and better home and garden practices that help to conserve water.

Says Water Quality Manager Joseph Grande, "Ensuring clean, safe drinking water is a shared responsibility; there are many things citizens can do to protect this precious natural resource." The report spotlights water conservation, wellhead protection, private well abandonment, and cross connection control and elimination.

The report also 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 in a limited number of city wells. For example, tetrachloroethylene and trichloroethylene - industrial solvents - are found at low levels in some 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.

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, madisonwater.org, or call the Water Utility, 266-4654, to obtain a detailed water quality report.

Contact:
  • Joseph Grande, Water Quality Manager, 266-4654