About the Project

Well 15 building


Purpose: Install PFAS treatment equipment at Well 15 that will remove PFAS and two volatile organic compounds (VOC) from the water and eliminate the air stripping system.

Total Project budget: $5.9 Million 

Anticipated completion: Summer 2025

Project Overview:

Well 15 has a history of organic contaminants being found in the well.  An air stripping system was installed in 2013 to remove organic contaminants like PCE and TCE.  PFAS, or Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances, were later found at the well but are not removed by the air stripping system. This project aims to simultaneously remove PFAS, PCE, and TCE from water at Well 15.

PFAS were first discovered at Well 15 during limited testing at wells near landfills and the airport.  The well was later shut down amid community concerns about PFAS chemicals found there. Since then, Madison Water Utility and the City of Madison have made a commitment to the community that Well 15 would not be put back in service until treatment was installed.

PFAS are a class of thousands of chemicals used in a variety of products from food packaging and cookware to upholstery, clothing and firefighting foam. These chemicals do not break down naturally in the environment and are believed to have negative health impacts. Additional information related to PFAS and the latest results of testing conducted by the City of Madison Water Utility can be found here

Key Milestones

  • 2017 - PFAS first discovered at Well 15.

  • 2018 – Completion of a modeling and groundwater study. The study confirmed that Truax Air Field is inside the groundwater capture zone for Well 15, and could be the source of PFAS at the well.

    • Read more about the study here.
  • 2019 - Well 15 shut down amid community concerns about PFAS chemicals.
  • 2021 - Completion of a feasibility study to determine the effectiveness of granular activated carbon (GAC) at removing the mixture of PFAS found at Well 15, and what it would cost.
    • Read more about the PFAS removal feasibility study here.
  • 2022 - Hired an engineering consultant to develop preliminary designs for a PFAS treatment system. Project was also submitted to the WI DNR Safe Drinking Water Loan Program for potential public funding.

What is Next?

  • Submit final plans and specifications to WI DNR for approval and formally apply for public funding (Bipartisan Infrastructure Law) under the Safe Drinking Water Loan Program.   
  • Construction to begin in spring of 2024 with well operational in summer of 2025.
  • Continue to monitor for PFAS semi-annually at all wells and report results on our website and through the Annual Water Quality Report.
  • View latest PFAS testing results
  • View latest Annual Water Quality Report 

Well 15 timeline

Community Engagement 

Northeast Area Plan Open House - March 29, 2023
This Open House was part of ongoing community outreach efforts to engage with residents about land use, housing, transit, streets, bike, paths, and other community facilities in the region. Roundtable discussions and presentations from various city agencies helped engage Northeast Area residents about current planning initiatives, including Madison Water Utility projects. Comments received and questions asked during the Open House were recorded and are available here

Public Information Meeting 2 - September 8, 2022
A second public meeting was held at the East Madison Community Center on September 8th. Utility staff presented preliminary concepts on PFAS treatment solutions being considered for municipal drinking water Well #15. The presentation provided an overview of the five treatment options considered along with an explanation of the pros, cons, and cost benefit analysis associated with each approach. The presentation PDF was followed by a question and answer session PDF .

Public Information Meeting 1 - June 30, 2022
The first public information meeting and listening session was held at the East Madison Community Center on June 30th. The meeting began with a presentation PDF by the utility's General Manager and Water Quality Manager/Project Manager, followed by a question and answer PDF session.