MADISON, Wis. - The city of Madison is working on a game plan for a well on the east side after tests for contaminants came back positive late last year.
The contaminant is known as PFAS. It refers to a group of hundreds of thousands of chemicals found in things such as firefighting foam and Teflon. The city has tested wells citywide for the chemicals, and after no wells tested at levels above Environmental Protection Agency health advisory levels, the city has retested a group of five at a more sensitive level. From there, two wells showed contamination.
.@MadWaterUtility starting its board meeting with a focus on PFAS tonight(This is the chemical found in a well on the east side). This slide shows you some of the concerns related to PFAS, including its toxicity at low levels and it’s inability to break down in the body.#News3Now pic.twitter.com/YwVaoCiUgL— Amy Reid (@amyreidreports) February 5, 2019
“People are not happy that these chemicals ended up in their drinking water,” said Amy Barrilleaux, the spokesperson for the Madison Water Utility. “We are definitely not happy either.”
The city addressed the issue at the water utility board meeting Tuesday, showing the contamination coming from firefighting foam at Truax Field. The presenter said fixing the contamination will be “very expensive,” and the National Guard likely won’t pay for it because the levels are still below EPA health advisory levels. The Wisconsin National Guard did not immediately return a request for comment.
The water utility board heard comments from the public after its presentation. People largely said they didn’t believe the EPA levels were strict enough and that the city should do another round of testing on all Madison wells.
“I think we need the expanded testing,” said Sue Pastor, a resident who lives in the boundaries of an area served by a contaminated well. “I would argue for testing of more city wells.”
Currently there is no federal or state regulation of the chemical, though other states have created health advisory levels. A representative from the Department of Public Health said Wisconsin could develop an advisory level of its own as soon as April.
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