Discovering PFAS in Madison - A Timeline
2012 Madison Water Utility tests four wells for PFAS in advance of requirements to test all wells in 2015 under the EPA’s Unregulated Contaminants Monitoring Rule. No PFAS are detected.
2015 MWU tests all municipal wells as directed by the EPA under its Unregulated Contaminants Monitoring Rule using testing guidelines specified by the agency. No PFAS are detected in any Madison well.
2016 The EPA sets a Health Advisory Level for two types of PFAS, called PFOA and PFOS, at 70 parts per trillion (ppt).
08/1/2017 MWU launches another round of tests using methods that are more sensitive after new studies show there may be health effects at lower levels than the reporting limits established by the EPA. The Utility targets five wells located near the airport or landfills, areas where PFAS are most likely to be found in groundwater. The tests are not required by the EPA.
9/14/2017 MWU receives results from this round of testing that show trace detections at Well 16 on Mineral Point Rd. (located near a former landfill) and Well 15 on East Washington Ave. (located near Truax Air Field). Results at both wells are far below the EPA Health Advisory Level.
10/19/2017 PFAS test results presented to MWU’s Water Quality Technical Advisory Committee along with technical information on PFAS and its impact on human health.
10/23/2017 MWU posts web page highlighting PFAS testing results.
10/24/2017 PFAS detections reported to the Water Utility Board through a routine staff report that discusses regulated and unregulated contaminants in water.
10/31/2017 MWU notifies alders in the Well 16 and Well 15 areas of PFAS testing results
12/4/2017 MWU tests both wells once again and find similar concentrations.
03/09/2018 MWU launches another round of testing focused on Well 15 which included additional testing for a compound called perfluorohexanoic acid (PFHxA), The compound is detected.
03/30/2018 Madison Water Utility provides required water quality information to consecutive systems, including the Village of Maple Bluff, that receives water from MWU. Some of the village’s water comes from Well 15. This information includes draft language for the Utility’s Annual Water Quality Report that discusses the low level detections of PFAS at Well 15. As required by State code, materials are also submitted to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
04/17/2018 Responding to PFAS detections at Well 15 reported in our correspondences with consecutive systems, DNR notifies Madison Water Utility that PFOA and PFOS had been detected in shallow groundwater near Truax. Madison Water Utility requests additional information with regard to known PFAS contamination at Truax.
4/20/2018 The DNR provides MWU a “Notification For Hazardous Substance Discharge,” dated 04/12/2018, which reported PFAS contamination in soil and groundwater a Truax Field. Wisconsin Air National Guard reported this “historic” spill. The DNR also provides MWU with a draft Site Investigation Report on perfluorinated compounds at Truax Air National Guard Base.
05/18/2018 Madison Water Utility releases its Annual Water Quality Report to the public and media. The report includes a highlighted section on Perfluorinated Compounds testing and results.
6/18/2018 Madison Water Utility initiates a groundwater study to evaluate the time of travel for PFAS contamination from Truax Field to Well 15 and to update the Well 15 capture zones to determine if Truax could be the source of contamination at Well 15.
07/27/2018 Madison Water Utility posts an article to its website’s home page detailing PFAS detections at both wells and emails the article to followers.
9/10/2018 MWU completes the Well 15 groundwater study which concludes that contamination from Truax Field could be the source of PFAS at Well 15.
09/25/2018 Madison Water Utility and WI Air National Guard staff meet to discuss fire-fighting and training practices as they relate to PFAS-containing foams; actions being taken to limit PFAS releases to the environment; and progress on investigating and remediating known and other possible (i.e. burn pits) sources of PFAS contamination on the base.
09/28/2018 Madison Water Utility reiterates its concern about PFAS contamination to WI Air National Guard and asks for an investigation into the off-site migration of PFAS to begin as soon as possible.
10/17/2018 Madison Water Utility launches yet another round of testing, again focused on Well 15.
11/28/2018 Mayor Paul Soglin sends a letter to Captain Shaw of the Wisconsin Air National Guard asking that the Guard prioritize further study of PFAS migration off the base and initiate environmental remediation. Mayor Soglin releases the letter to the public along with the latest information about PFAS contamination near the base
2/5/2019 PFAS are discussed at the Water Utility Board Meeting, and includes public comment and questions. Board directs Madison Water Utility to begin advanced PFAS testing at all wells.
- Click here for a summary of what was recommended at the meeting.
- View the meeting presentation on PFAS testing from MWU water quality manager Joe Grande.
3/4/2019 Madison Water Utility takes Well 15 offline amid public concern about PFAS.
3/6/2019 Public meeting with with the Eken Park Neighborhood Association, Emerson East Neighborhood Association, Friends of Starkweather Creek
3/16/2019 Public meeting at East Madison Community Center.
3/21/2019 Carpenter-Ridgeway Neighborhood Association Meeting