News Briefs: Utility Shuts Down Well Waiting for PFAS Guidance

Also in this week's water and wastewater news, a study out of Minnesota claims that replacing the state's lead pipes could have a net positive effect on the economy

Madison (Wisconsin) Water Utility has announced it is shutting down a drinking water well in an effort to protect customers from hazardous chemicals originating from Truax Field Air National Guard Base.

After hearing citizen complaints that the state and federal government aren’t doing enough to address per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) contamination issues, the Madison Water Utility Board called for a more aggressive approach.

Madison Water Utility will temporarily rely on other well facilities to serve the Well 15 area on the city’s east side as it waits for a recommended PFAS standard from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS). The DHS is expected to recommend a PFAS groundwater standard to the Department of Natural Resources sometime this spring.

The utility does expect Well 15 to meet the DHS’ recommended standard and plans to bring the well back online this summer. According to Public Health Madison Dane County, the levels of PFAS detected at Well 15 are not considered a potential threat to health, and its water is safe to drink.

Minnesota Study Says Replacing Lead Pipes Is Good for Economy

An interesting feasibility report recently released by the Minnesota Department of Health shows that removing all the lead from the state’s drinking water infrastructure could have a net positive effect on Minnesota’s economy.

The report shows that replacing lead infrastructure could cost a little over $4 billion, but that the benefits to public health and the economy could tally more than $8 billion.

The study estimates that removal of lead pipes over the next 20 years would create benefits by enhancing brain development and lifetime productivity in people, resulting in increased earnings and taxes.

“For every dollar spent on addressing lead in drinking water, we would see at least two dollars in benefits,” Minnesota Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm tells the Quad Community Press. “As we see in many other areas of public health, preventing a health problem is more cost-effective than waiting for a health problem to develop and then treating it.”

Federal Legislator Proposes Repurposing High-Speed Rail Funding for Water Infrastructure

Congressman Kevin McCarthy (R-California) recently introduced legislation that proposes repurposing recovered federal funding from the California High-Speed Rail project to critical water infrastructure projects in California and the west.

McCarthy’s legislation, HR 1600, is called the Repurposing Assets to Increase Long-term Water Availability and Yield (RAILWAY) Act.

“The California High-Speed Rail project is a boondoggle that California and American taxpayers must move on from,” McCarthy said, according to a press release from his office. “Since its inception, the project’s costs have ballooned while oversight and accountability within the California High-Speed Rail Authority has been nonexistent. Last month, Governor Newsom in his State of the State rightfully recognized these shortcomings and announced an end to the project as it was put to the voters.

“The RAILWAY Act would end the federal government’s involvement in this failed endeavor by repurposing up to $3.5 billion in recovered federal funding for the California High-Speed Speed Rail project to water storage infrastructure projects as outlined in the bipartisan WIIN Act. Under the WIIN Act, five storage projects in California are advancing, and when completed, could provide 5 million acre-feet of additional water storage in our state. This is a far better use of taxpayer money that can address more important needs in our state.”


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