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The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) announced today 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 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, 608-266-4611