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MADISON, Wis. - A pilot study commissioned by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has revealed the possibility of additional sources of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances -- PFAS -- contamination near two Madison drinking-water wells.

In April the DNR hired an environmental-consulting firm to inventory current and former industrial and commercial activities to help determine potential sources of PFAS affecting the two wells. Madison municipal Wells 15 and 16 were chosen for the pilot study because voluntary sampling events that occurred in late 2018 by the Madison water utility confirmed the wells are affected by PFAS. Well 15 helps serve the city's northeast side; Well 16 provides water to part of Madison's west side.

PFAS are a group of human-made chemicals used for decades in numerous products including non-stick cookware, fast-food wrappers, stain-resistant sprays and certain types of firefighting foam. Those legacy contaminants have made their way into the environment through accidental spills of PFAS-containing materials, discharges of PFAS-containing wastewater to treatment plants and certain types of firefighting foams.

The pilot study showed that, in addition to known PFAS sources, there could be additional sources around Wells 15 and 16 that require further evaluation.

"Clean drinking water is a public-health priority," said Preston Cole, secretary-designee for the DNR. "This pilot project serves as an example of the department's efforts to raise water-quality issues to the forefront and assist Madison in its mission to provide safe reliable water to the community. The department remains committed to working collaboratively with the city, county, water-utility and sewage district."

The next steps include taking groundwater samples from existing monitoring wells to identify other potential sources of PFAS. The DNR and local officials will evaluate the results and methodology of the pilot study to help with evaluations in Dane County and other locations across the state where PFAS contamination may exist.

Visit dnr.wi.gov and type in keyword "PFAS" for more information.

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