creek in Madison

In Dane County, there is a multi-agency action team that includes departments representing water, human health, and the environment working on PFAS contamination and remediation.


Latest News

January 18, 2022
The Wisconsin Air National Guard's 115th Fighter Wing hosted an open house on January 11 to address the current status of Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances originating on and around Truax Field. You can watch the recording here and see the presentation slides here

Following the open house, there is now a 30-day comment period during which community members are encouraged to submit comments related to the relative risk site evaluation. Comments can be submitted through February 14, 2022. 

January 10, 2022

PFAS Remedial Investigation Open House at MATC’s Mitby Theater on Tuesday, January 11. This Open House will be hosted by the National Guard Bureau. The event begins at 6:00pm with a posterboard session, followed by presentations by the National Guard Bureau. A 45 minute Q&A session will start around 7:30pm. 

January 10, 2022
Dane County Regional Airport Progress Report Summary: an overview of actions to address PFAS (Perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances) contamination at the Dane County Regional Airport since May 2021.

December 6, 2021
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) will host the next meeting of the PFAS External Advisory Group on Friday, Dec. 17, 2021, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. 

The public is invited to attend and may ask questions and make comments at the meeting. Submit questions in advance to DNRPFASInquiries@wisconsin.gov. More information about this meeting, including a Zoom link and an agenda, can be found here

November 11, 2021The Wisconsin PFAS Action Council (WisPAC) met on Nov. 10, 2021. The agenda, additional resources and the recording of this meeting are available on the WisPAC webpage.

October 28, 2021
The Wisconsin PFAS Action Council (WisPAC) will meet virtually via Zoom from 1-4 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2021. Agenda items for this meeting include a review of the PFAS Action Plan implementation progress and plans for the first annual report. In addition, there will be some discussion about the alignment of the Wisconsin PFAS Action Plan and the recently released federal EPA PFAS Strategic Roadmap.

The agenda, additional resources and the Zoom web conferencing details for this meeting are available on the WisPAC webpage.

October 18, 2021
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a PFAS Strategic Roadmap. The roadmap sets timelines by which EPA plans to take specific actions and commits to bolder new policies to safeguard public health, protect the environment, and hold polluters accountable.

Read an overview of the PFAS Strategic Roadmap here.Read the complete Roadmap here.

October 14, 2021
DNR To Host PFAS Technical Group Meeting Friday, Oct. 15, 2021

September 30, 2021
Madison Metropolitan Sewer District's PFAS results favorable, indicate expected levels for area.  


Identified Sources of PFAS Contamination & Remediation Plans

In the City of Madison, known sources of PFAS contamination are Truax Field Air National Guard Base and the Regional Airport due the use of firefighting foams at the sites.

Work is underway with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Wisconsin Air National Guard, Dane County, and City of Madison to address the PFAS contamination. This contamination is linked to PFAS being found in stormwater discharge, area wells, and nearby surface water.

Due to the wide variety of products and materials that employ PFAS compounds, additional sources of exposure to ground and surface water can include landfills and certain businesses and manufacturers.


Madison Well Water Testing Plans & Results

Madison Water Utility is monitoring drinking water supplies in all municipal wells for potential PFAS contamination. More information on municipal well testing and results is available through the Madison Water Utility.


Surface Water Testing Plans & Results

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is conducting three rounds of surface water testing of Starkweather Creek in Madison.

Starkweather was chosen because the headwaters of the West Branch of Starkweather Creek originate on or near Truax Field Air National Guard Base and the Dane County Regional Airport, known sources of PFAS contamination. Other historical sources of contamination are also likely located in the Starkweather Creek watershed.

On 12/2/2019, residents near Starkweather Creek received a letter outlining what we know and don’t know about PFAS in the area, as well as what residents should do to protect themselves from PFAS. Signs have been posted along public access points to Starkweather Creek to make sure creek users are aware of the presence of PFAS. 

Results from the first round of surface water testing showed elevated levels of PFOA and PFOS in the water. Results from the second and third round of sampling will be critical to determine if the patterns are consistent and to guide future response activities – results are expected later this year. PFAS contamination is also expected in the sediments of the Starkweather Creek site.

The City of Madison, Dane County Regional Airport, and the Wisconsin Air National Guard have all been named responsible for causing PFAS contamination in Starkweather Creek. More information about remediation actions can be found on WI DNR’s Remediation and Redevelopment Database (Activity # 02-13-584369).

Although coming in contact with water that has PFAS present is not an immediate health concern, it is recommended that people avoid drinking or accidentally swallowing surface water and avoid handling sediments or foams potentially contaminated with PFAS compounds. After playing or wading in water or handling sediments, wash hands and rinse pets with clean water to prevent ingesting PFAS that may be on skin or fur.


Dane County Regional Airport Stormwater Discharge

In 2019, the Dane County Regional Airport was required to complete testing for PFAS in order to renew their permit for stormwater discharge at the airport. Testing revealed PFAS in the stormwater that will require investigation and cleanup of the site. More information about remediation actions can be found on WI DNR’s Remediation and Redevelopment Database (Activity #02-13-584472).


Fish Tissue Testing & Results

Consumption of fish containing elevated levels of PFAS is a potential human health concern. Dane County fish consumption advisories are in place because fish caught in Dane County contain chemicals like mercury and PCBs. The Department of Natural Resources tested fish from the Yahara River chain of lakes in 2020. Test results shots PFOS levels that are above the recommended health standards. Following the fish eating guidelines for Dane County will reduce PFAS/PFOS exposure.

A comprehensive fish contaminant monitoring project is planned on Lake Monona targeting a variety of species for PFAS and other contaminants in 2021.


Sewage & Wastewater Testing & Treatment

Wastewater treatment plants are not a source of PFAS, but many industries that have historically used PFAS may be discharging these compounds into sanitary sewers. As long as PFAS are in everyday use consumer products it will be impossible not to convey some PFAS through the wastewater treatment process and into biosolids.

In July 2019, the WI DNR requested that 125 municipal wastewater treatment facilities sample water coming in and water going out for PFAS compounds to gain a better understanding of how and where PFAS contaminants could be entering the air, land and waters of the state. This includes the Madison Metropolitan Sewage District and the Sun Prairie Wastewater Treatment Facility. 

More information about how Madison Metropolitan Sewerage District is addressing PFAS can be found on their PFAS webpage.


Drinking Water Testing Recommendations for Municipal and Private Wells

Testing the public water systems for PFAS is not a requirement. Residents should contact their municipality if they would like to know about PFAS testing in their community, however the majority of public water systems in Dane County do not test for PFAS.

Public Health Madison & Dane County recommends that public water systems and private well owners test for PFAS if they are near:

  • A military base or area that has been used for firefighting activities
  • An industrial area with frequent PFAS manufacture, disposal, or use
  • A previously used landfill area

The following laboratories are able to analyze PFAS compounds in drinking water at low detection limits:

  • ALS Global, Kelso, Washington. (360) 577-7222
  • Eurofins , South Bend, Indiana. (574) 233-4777
  • SGS AXYS, 2045 Mills Road W., Sidney BC Canada. (888) 373-0881
  • TestAmerica , W. Sacramento, California. (916) 373-5600
  • WeckLabs , City of Industry, California. (626) 336-2139