City of Madison Breaks Ground on PFAS Treatment Facility at Municipal Well 15


Today, Madison Water Utility officially started construction on a PFAS treatment facility for one of its drinking water wells – Well 15 on Madison’s east side. Well 15 has been shut down since 2019 due to PFAS contamination. Today, Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway and Water Utility General Manager Krishna Kumar officially led the groundbreaking to start construction on a PFAS treatment facility.

“Providing safe, clean drinking water is one of the most important services we provide as a city, and the Madison Water Utility takes that seriously,” said Mayor Rhodes-Conway. “We were an early adopter of voluntary testing for PFAS chemicals, and we have been proactive in identifying, designing, and now constructing a PFAS treatment system.”

PFAS, or Per and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances, are a class of chemicals used in everything from food packaging and cookware to upholstery, clothing and firefighting foam. The chemicals do not break down naturally in the environment and are therefore termed “forever chemicals.”

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently finalized regulations for PFAS in drinking water. Six new enforcement standards, or maximum contaminant levels (MCLs), were established for PFAS compounds, most notably PFOA and PFOS. The new rule requires utilities to monitor for PFAS by 2027. Madison has comprehensively tested all wells for PFAS over the last five years and will continue to meet these new strict standards for PFAS.

Well 15 is the only City of Madison drinking water well that does not currently meet the new EPA PFAS standards. PFAS were first discovered at the well in 2017 and the well was later shut down in 2019 amid community concerns and has not operated since. Now, with the construction groundbreaking that took place today, work to establish a treatment system to remove PFAS from Well 15’s water is officially underway. The expectation is for the PFAS treatment system to be operational by next summer (2025), well before the new EPA rules take effect.

Informed by community input throughout the planning process, the City has opted for a hybrid PFAS treatment system at Well 15 that utilizes granular activated carbon (GAC) and ion exchange (IX) resin. GAC will remove PFAS (and other volatile organics) while IX will reduce concentrations of short-chain PFAS. This treatment is expected to remove all PFAS down to a non-detectable level.

The project will be fully financed through the Safe Drinking Water Loan Program, which is made possible through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. With a total project cost of $5.9M, roughly half of the financing will be received as a grant (no repayment required) while the remainder will be a low-interest loan.

“I want to express my appreciation to President Biden and EPA Administrator Regan for their support of clean water, and for making resources available so cities can prioritize public health,” said Mayor Rhodes-Conway.

The PFAS treatment at Municipal Well 15 highlights Madison’s commitment to providing safe, high-quality water to our community.

Visit the Well 15 Project Website and sign up to receive email updates and alerts here. Check out the latest Annual Drinking Water Quality Report. Please contact Madison Water Utility with any questions.

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