City of Madison Logo
Water Utility Header

Winner - Best Tasting Water in Wisconsin, 2013 WWA State Fair competition

INFORMATION about Well 8

Well 8 circa 1955 and today


Drilled in 1945, Well 8 is located in Olbrich Park and draws water from the lower aquifer more than 750 feet beneath Madison. A 140,000 gallon reservoir was built into the hillside just behind the wellhouse and is completely hidden.

Well 8 has a pumping capacity of 2.5 million gallons a day, but it is used only during peak summer months.

Madison Kipp concerns

Well 8 became a focus of neighborhood concern when a DNR assessment revealed soil and groundwater contamination at nearby Madison Kipp Corporation.

According to the DNR, tetrachloroethylene (PCE) was detected at elevated levels in soil on the east side of the Madison Kipp plant where degreasing solvents had been used for many years. PCE was also detected at very low levels in soil at three neighboring homes.

A plume carrying PCE and the related chemical TCE has been located about 600 feet from Well 8.


Well 8 water quality testing information (2013)




Is Well 8 contaminated by the PCE coming from Madison Kipp?

No. No PCE or TCE have ever been found at Well 8.


Is water at Well 8 safe?

Yes. Well 8 water meets or exceeds all state and federal regulatory guidelines for health and safety. When the well is in service, Madison Water Utility routinely monitors its water quality through a rigorous testing program overseen by the DNR.


Will Well 8 be used over the summer?

Probably. Well 8 is typically only used during the high-demand summer months. Because another well on North Sherman Ave. will be out of service for reconstruction during the summer of 2014, Well 8 may be critical to meet demand over the summer.

Why is Well 8 a seasonal well?

Well 8 contains naturally-occurring iron and manganese, which can discolor the water and stain plumbing fixtures and laundry. So Well 8 is used only when necessary.

If Madison Water Utility runs Well 8 all summer long, will it pull PCE from Madison Kipp into the water supply?

No. Well 8 draws water from the lower aquifer, some 774 feet below Madison. Some contamination emanating from Madison Kipp has been found in shallow groundwater about 600 feet from Well 8. It is extremely unlikely that running Well 8 over the summer would result in any large movement of that contamination closer to the well. Madison Water Utility will continue to routinely test the water at Well 8 to make sure its water is completely safe.

Is Madison Water Utility considering using Well 8 all year long?


Yes. Well 8 provides plentiful, safe water. As part of Madison Water Utility’s long-range planning, installation of an iron and manganese filter has been slated for the well in 2017. The filter would allow Well 8 to run all year without any discoloration issues.

What happens if contamination from Madison Kipp does reach the well someday?

Right now, preliminary modeling results from Madison Kipp show that PCE contamination will not reach Well 8. But Madison Water Utility has requested more modeling to validate those results, and we’re asking for assurances from the DNR that there will be no risk of contamination to Well 8 under future projected pumping conditions. Nevertheless, the new facility will be designed to include piping and space for the addition of an air stripper (which removes PCE) should the need arise in the future.

What about the chemical DCE? Hasn’t that been found in Well 8 water?


Yes. Test results have revealed trace amounts of a compound called DCE, which is related to PCE but is far less concerning. The level of DCE in Well 8 has remained constant for the last decade at around 0.2 parts per billion (ppb). The Public Health Goal and federally-mandated Maximum Contaminant Level for DCE is 70 ppb – 350 times higher than the amount found at Well 8.

The source of the DCE is unclear, but because the level is not increasing, it’s unlikely that the chemical is coming from the PCE contamination plume currently emanating from Madison Kipp.