City of

District 6

Alder Brian Benford

Image of Alder Brian Benford

Alder Brian Benford

Contact Information

Home Address:

2273 E. Washington Ave #1
Madison , WI 53704

Council Office

Common Council Office:
210 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd
Room 417
Madison, WI 53703
Phone: (608) 266-4071
Fax: (608) 267-8669
WI Relay Service

Alder Benford’s Updates

D6 Items of Interest Week of December 30, 2019

December 29, 2019 11:49 PM

There are no city meetings to report on this week. I hope you are enjoying the holiday break with family and friends. Have a safe New Years Eve. Verify your voter registration. PFAS news. Neighborhood meeting January 8 (see below for details).


Free Metro rides on New Year's Eve starting at 7p!

Metro Transit and the Tavern League of Wisconsin's Safe Ride Program offer FREE rides on New Year's Eve starting at 7 p.m.

Buses follow regular WEEKDAY schedules with extended service until approximately 3:30 a.m.


Extended Service Schedule PDF  (PDF)

Plan your trip on Google Maps !

New Year's Eve FREE Rides is sponsored by The Tavern League of Wisconsin's SafeRide Program . The Tavern League is committed to keeping impaired drivers off Wisconsin's roads.

For more information, contact the Metro customer service center at (608) 266-4466 or

Complete Information


Verify your voter registration status!

In response to the December 13, 2019 court ruling regarding the inactivation of voter registrations, the Madison City Clerk's Office strongly encourages voters to verify their registration status.

Voters with online access may verify their registration by visiting . Toward the top of the webpage, they may select "Search by Name" or "My Voter Info" to search for their voter registration. The website will prompt the voter to enter their name and date of birth.

Once the voter's registration information appears on the screen, the voter should look for a status of "You are Registered to Vote!" and should verify that the current address listed is accurate. If the voter sees a green button that says, "Click Here to Confirm Your Address," that means the voter was included in the mailing the Elections Commission recently sent to all voters it believed may have moved. It is imperative that these voters click the green button to confirm their address, if accurate, or click the gray "Update Address" button to update their voter registration online.

Voters without access to the internet are encouraged to contact the City Clerk's Office to verify their voter registration status.


PFAS in foam samples at Olbrich Park boat launch

On Thursday December 19th, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) announced that high concentrations of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) were found in foam samples from the Olbrich Park boat launch taken on October 25, 2019. PFAS are a group of man-made chemicals that are widespread in the environment, and can affect health at high concentrations.

Mayor Rhodes-Conway issued a press release. She "takes these findings very seriously, stating:

"The high concentrations of PFAS detected in the foam that accumulated at the Olbrich Park boat launch on October 25th are concerning. I've asked City Parks Division staff to increase monitoring of the boat launch and to report any cases of foam they identify to the DNR. City staff are also working with the County and the State on a coordinated response to PFAS pollution in Starkweather Creek."


  • Signs at the Olbrich Park boat launch and upstream inform the public that elevated levels of PFAS have been found in Starkweather Creek, and advise people to ensure they or their pets do not accidentally swallow any water or foam from the creek. Please follow the information on the signs.
  • The PFAS levels detected in the foam are not the same as PFAS levels measured throughout Starkweather Creek. PFAS in waterways tend to accumulate at the air-water interface and concentrate in foam, which can lead to higher PFAS levels in foam than in the surrounding water. The PFAS levels detected in the foam were significantly higher than what was found in the adjacent water.
  • City staff are coordinating with Public Health Madison and Dane County to hold a public information meeting regarding PFAS contamination in Starkweather Creek in January 2020. A date and location will be announced when they are finalized.


Christie Baumel

Deputy Mayor



Madison Fire Makes Switch To PFA-free Foam

Monday, December 16, 2019

The Madison Fire Department has acquired and placed into service a brand of firefighting foam shown to be PFA-free, according to manufacturer claims and an independent test of the product.

Effective December 13, 2019, all Madison Fire Department rigs were equipped with National Foam brand's Knockdown Class A Foam Concentrate. This foam was independently tested by the University of Notre Dame to verify the fluorine levels in the product. Results of the test showed fluorine levels at 1 ppm with a margin of error of 6 ppm. Fluorinated firefighting foam products typically contain around 5,000-7,000 ppm total fluorine. Knockdown Class A Foam Concentrate was chosen following internal functional testing of multiple products marketed as PFA-free. In addition to its extremely low concentration of fluorine, it was selected by the Madison Fire Department for its ability to perform effectively in a wide range of temperatures, which is especially important during Wisconsin's frigid winter months. The Madison Fire Department has contracted with a licensed disposal company to responsibly dispose of the fluorinated foam that was previously used by the department. This switch allows the Madison Fire Department to effectively fight fires while potentially reducing the risk of environmental contamination brought forth by PFAs.

The Madison Fire Department shares the community's concerns about the health and cleanliness of our environment. We recognize that the test results cited above are according to today's testing standards. We will continue to monitor this product as industry standards change and testing methods evolve.


Cynthia Schuster (Public Information Officer)(608) 261-5539


This is excellent news from MFD. The following is my summary of my work on PFAS..


Update on Joint Task Force on PFAS

After Alder Ahrens left the Council in April 2019, I became the lead sponsor of a resolution we co-authored to create a joint city and county taskforce to review, analyze and make recommendations for a comprehensive response to PFAS contamination in Madison.  I created a second substitute and added language to change the governance structure. Several things have happened which made me reconsider whether creating an ad hoc taskforce was the best approach to meeting my goals to create a public forum and information clearinghouse. 


In June, the Wisconsin Dept. of Health Services (DHS), Dept. of  Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP), and Dept. of Natural Resources (DNR) announced the results of Cycle 10 recommendations requested in 2018 by the DNR. They provided groundwater quality standards recommendations for 27 substances to the DNR that included PFOA and PFOS, in the PFAS family. State health officials recommended groundwater standards of 20 parts per trillion for these compounds (vs EPA health advisory standard of 70 ppt). The rulemaking process is lengthy and will take until Fall 2021 before the standards are adopted and the new or revised standards will be added to the state's 138 existing NR 140 groundwater quality standards.


On August 22, Governor Tony Evers announced Executive Order 40 that directed DNR to create a PFAS Coordinating Council, a multiagency work group that would recommend a plan based on public input.


The county supervisors I discussed the taskforce with wondered whether we should work with the Board of Public Health as opposed to creating an ad hoc task force. And once the Governor created the Coordinating Council, it seemed like some of the reasons for the Task Force has been satisfied by the Governor's initiative. At my request, the Common Council Executive Committee placed the resolution on file while we continue to work on a cooperative PFAS plan with the county.


The initial collaboration with City Council and County Board members with Public Health Dane County staff resulted in the creation of a new website about PFAS with links to health and other information PHMDC Per and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS). The DNR also has a site with information DNR Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) contamination


On November 27, in response to direction from the DNR in July for wastewater treatment facilities to monitor their influent and effluent for PFAS and investigate potential sources, the Madison Metropolitan Sewerage District (MMSD) announced they were working with a consultant to set up a sampling and analysis plan for their wastewater treatment plant. According to the MMSD press release , wastewater treatment plants are not original sources of PFAS and do not add or have the capability to remove these chemicals during the treatment process. The District has completed an initial review of its service area and has verified that it currently contains no known original industrial manufacturers or users of PFAS. Testing is anticipated to begin in the first quarter of 2020; dependent on the state's certification of labs, the state has indicated it will have final approved methods for testing for PFAS compounds in wastewater and biosolids in the coming weeks and anticipates having labs certified to test for PFAS in early 2020. Having state-certified labs ensures that wastewater treatment facilities in Wisconsin, including the District, receive results that are standardized, reliable and comparable and that align with the state's established testing methods. This will help provide information to the utility and the public to help make informed decisions.


The foam (especially) and surface water samples taken by the DNR in October at Olbrich boat launch and reported on December 19 had levels of PFOS that exceed EPA health advisory standards and the new proposed state standards PFAS Sampling Results of Starkweather Creek Due to Foam Sightings . According to a news release October 7, water sampling done this summer showed the West Branch of Starkweather Creek near Fair Oaks Avenue, had the highest concentration of PFOA and PFOS, at 43 and 270 ppt, respectively. One known source of PFAS near the creek at Truax Field Air National Guard Base, where PFAS containing fire-fighting foam was used. However, because there may be additional PFAS sources nearby, further investigation of the area is planned, and results from the second and third rounds of sampling will be critical in guiding future response activities. In addition to the surface water testing, staff collected fish samples from Lake Monona near the Starkweather Creek outlet for PFAS analysis. Once the fish samples are received, the DNR and DHS will review the results and make any necessary revisions to local fish consumption advisories. DNR's First Round of Sampling Shows PFAS Contamination at Surface Water Monitoring Locations in Wisconsin This fall, the DNR approved health advisory warning signage for Starkweather Creek advising the public to keep humans and pets away from the foam and rinse it off if contact is made and limit weekly amounts of fish eaten from the Creek. 


The fish tissue testing should be completed in January. The city and county with Public Health will hold at least one informational meeting in January to report on the findings. If the fish tissue shows high levels of contamination, the health advisory may need to be changed to do not eat fish caught in Starkweather or at the mouth of the river. Since people ice fish near the Olbrich boat launch, the signage and outreach should be immediately reviewed, if tests come back with high parts per trillion.


Other emerging issues are soil and groundwater contamination when a site is disturbed during construction. This could affect private developers who propose to build near Truax Field (for example, at the Oscar's site or along Packers) as well as the Wis Air National Guard proposal to construct several new buildings as part of the siting of F-35s at Truax. Potential PFAS sources, according to local community activist Maria Powell, include: Darwin and Pearson burn pits where PFAS fire fighting foam (AFFF) was used for years; Reindahl Park dewatering of PFAS into Starkweather Creek; PFAS in groundwater at former Burke sewage treatment plant; former Oscar Mayer site (likely PFAS source); city landfills (likely PFAS source); and pesticides used all over the city (some pesticides contain PFAS).


Well 15 is another unknown. The Madison Water Utility Board in their comments for the F-35 EIS published September 25 stated: "Until further steps are taken to define the extent, nature and probable path of the soil and groundwater contamination, MWU's rate payers are left with an unknown cost and timeline should treatment be needed at Well 15. The Madison Water Utility Board urges the Department of Defense and United States Air Force to complete the PFAs investigation, coordinating fully with WDNR; remediate the contamination, and assume the costs borne by the Madison Water Utility rate payers to provide adequate treatment for PFAs at Well 15 or replace the affected well. We look forward to the Air Force and the 115 Fighter Wing acting as good neighbors, who share our goal of protecting the safety and health of our shared community, before adding additional infrastructure and jet capability at the Truax base." By the end of February, we should know the decision of the Secretary of the Air Force about F-35s.


Finally, once the Madison Metropolitan Sewerage District has data confirming if there is PFAS contamination of biosolids (the treated sewage is used as fertilizer), select county property owners may be advised to test their private wells.


I am committed to work with city and county colleagues to create a public forum on PFAS and include the goals of the original resolution:  gather information from entities addressing PFAS – the WDNR, Wis Dept of Health, Madison Water Utility, Madison Metropolitan Sewerage District(MMSD), Public Health Dane County, Dane County Regional Airport, Wisconsin Air National Guard  and USEPA; identify knowledge gaps about sources, local pathways and off base migration from Truax; stay on top of emerging science, track remediation at Truax and testing of Starkweather Creek and investigate best practices from around the country.  I hear people say that PFAS is everywhere and in all of us, I am concerned that we are underestimating the harm and risk to certain sections of the population: adults and infants who live close to Truax who drank Well 15 water for years who will have accumulated higher percentages of PFAS than the average and residents who eat fish regularly from the mouth of Starkweather Creek at Lake Monona.


January 8 neighborhood meeting at 7:15p @ Wil-Mar for Canopy liquor license application at 924 Williamson St:


Dear Neighbor,


Please join me for a neighborhood meeting where we will hear about Austin Carl's proposal to open Canopy at 924 Williamson Street, formerly Prism, and his application for a Visual & Performing Arts License and a Class B Liquor & Beer License.  Canopy would be a coffee shop with food service during the day and a bar/nightclub with live entertainment such as bands and DJs at night.  Mr. Carl also plans to remodel the upstairs into a classroom area where people could take dance, fitness, and other classes.  He also intends to add an outside patio.  The estimated capacity of the establishment is 375, and the proposed hours of operations are 8am-12am Sunday through Tuesday; 8am-1am on Wednesday; and 8am-2am Thursday-Saturday.  The Alcohol License Review Committee will consider his application at its January 15 meeting.  The proposal will also require a Conditional Use Permit due to the use as a nightclub.


Wednesday, January 8, 2020 - 7:15 p.m. Wil-Mar Neighborhood Center, Yahara Room - 953 Jenifer Street


I look forward to seeing you on the 8th.


Marsha Rummel Alderperson, Sixth District 608-772-4555

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