About the Project

Latest News

Open House

Wednesday, June 18, 5 - 7 p.m., 3900 East Washington Ave.

This project is complete. Thanks to everyone who stopped by our open house on June 18, 2014. And a big thanks to community members involved our Citizen Advisory Process (CAP) on the project!

Well 15

Additional Treatment

March 27, 2014 - Madison Water Utility is moving forward with another phase of treatment at Well 15. While the newly-built air stripper at the well has been extremely effective at removing volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from the water, it also removes acidity from the water, raising the pH level. Madison Water Utility is adding very low levels (about 50 mL per 1000 gallons) of sulfuric acid to the treated water to restore the natural pH balance. The acid is NSF Certified as safe and appropriate for use in drinking water systems. It's also the treatment option least likely to have secondary effects on our water supply, sewer treatment system, and lakes.

Project Description

Constructed in 1965, Well 15 has been a water supply work horse for the northeast corner of the City. Pumping as much as 1 billion gallons per year, the well has provided drinking water for close to 50 years. With a pumping capacity of 2200 gallons per minute and a daily capacity of 3 million gallons per day, the well operates around the clock 365 days per year. Well 15 provides water supply to areas along the East Washington corridor, the airport, the American Family area, and East Towne.

MWU measured volatile organic compounds (VOC) in the water well below the EPA regulatory limit during the 1990’s and has monitored them routinely since then. When VOC levels increased to over 3 parts per billion (ppb), which is still well below the regulatory limit of 5 ppb, MWU decided to take action and construct an air stripper that would remove the VOC from the water. Strand Associates was hired to complete the design and the project was bid in the summer of 2012 with Miron Construction winning the bid. Construction started in the fall and was completed in July 2013. The air stripper is housed in an addition to the building that was built over the existing buried reservoir.

The air stripper removes VOC from the water by forcing air through the water thereby stripping out the contaminant. The air is exhausted to the atmosphere above the roof level and the water is pumped to the system essentially VOC free. The system operates on variable speed controls that allow the flow through the treatment equipment to be varied to match water demands.

PipesWell 15 inside

The capacity of the treatment facility is as follows:

  • Well Capacity = 2,200 gallons per minute
  • Air Stripper = 2 each 1,100 gallon per minute capacity QED Low Profile air strippers
  • Booster Pump Capacity = one pump with 2,100 gallons per minute or 3 million gallons per day capacity
  • Reservoir Capacity = 150,000 gallons
  • Standby Generator = provided by MGE
  • Estimated Total construction cost for the air stripper addition = $2,300,000
  • Construction Start = September 2012
  • Construction Completion = July 2013

Get Involved

Madison Water Utility formed a Citizen’s Advisory Panel (CAP) for this project and worked closely with this group and the alder for this area, Joe Clausius, to develop and refine this project. Several CAP meetings in addition to public meetings were held to discuss the project. If you would like to participate in the public participation process for any other project, please contact us at 608-266-4651 or water@madisonwater.org .

This web page and the CAP process provide citizens with the opportunity to provide valuable input and feedback on the proposed project. This public engagement produces a high quality project that meets and exceeds neighborhood expectations.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why was this project needed?

Well 15 is a key water supply, transmission, and water storage facility in the northeast corner of the Madison drinking water system. The well provides drinking water supply to major commercial and residential areas and it is estimated to serve 10,000 to 15,000 residents. Water quality concerns resulting from rising concentrations of volatile organic compounds made the need for a VOC treatment system a priority.

The proposed facility will remove the VOC from the water. Preliminary testing indicates removal rates in excess of 90% reducing the VOC to very low levels.

Is the water safe to drink?

Water from Well 15 meets and exceeds all federal and state drinking water regulations and is safe to drink. Throughout the well’s history, the VOC level was never measured to be in excess of regulatory levels. The air stripper removes over 90% of the VOC.

Does the air stripper pollute the air around the well?

The air from the stripper discharges up through the roof into the atmosphere. The large volume of air used in the stripper dilutes the VOC to very low levels that are nowhere near air quality standards. No air quality problems exist due to the installation of the air stripper.

Will the facility produce a high level of noise?

The blowers that draw air in from the outside and push it through the air stripper will run whenever the well is producing water. Noise dampening equipment and ductwork was installed during construction to limit noise from the facility. The noise will be no more than what would be expected from commercial building ventilation system.

Will I notice a change in my water quality?

No change in appearance or taste and odor is anticipated.

What will the new facility look like?

The addition was designed and constructed to match the existing well house. The air stripper area required a higher ceiling which resulted in a change in the roof line. The architect was able to use this to provide contrast and interest in the building exterior.

Will there be a lot of traffic to this facility on a regular basis?

Well 15 will be visited by our operation personnel once a day for about 15 to 20 minutes. On occasion a maintenance crew will spend a day at the facility servicing the air stripper and pumps.

Additional Information / Past Meetings

A CAP meeting was held on Monday, August 20 at the Streets East Facility Lunch Rooom.

A CAP meeting was held on Thursday, June 14 at the Streets East Facility Lunch Room.

The results of the PCE Contaminant Source Inventory are now available.

A public meeting was held on Thursday, May 17 from 5:30-7:00 pm on site at 3900 East Washington Ave.

A CAP meeting was held on Monday, April 9 at the Streets East Facility (4602 Sycamore Ave).

A CAP meeting was held on Monday, March 5 at the Streets East Facility (4602 Sycamore Ave).

MWU requested proposals for professional services in evaluating two alternatives to treatment of VOCs at its Unit Well 15 site. View the full advertisement.

MWU requested statements of proposals for engineering services for the Utility’s Well 15 VOC mitigation project. Click here to view the full advertisement:

Information from the November 10, 2011 CAP meeting at the Streets East Facility Lunch Room (4602 Sycamore Ave):

Information from the August 15, 2011 CAP meeting:

A CAP Meeting was held on Thursday, May 19, 2011 at the Streets East Lunch Room at 4602 Sycamore Avenue.

A Citizen Advisory Panel Meeting for the East Side Water Supply Project was held on

Tuesday, March 29, 2011 at the Goodman Community Center.  It included a joint presentation to the ESWS CAP and the Well 15 CAP to review the Treatment of Well 15 Memorandum.

On Thursday, March 10th, at the Streets East Facility at 4602 Sycamore Avenue, a public meeting was held to discuss rising levels of volatile organic compounds (VOC) in Unit Well 15.  These compounds do not violate any current regulations; however, the Utility is making preparations in the event that action regarding VOC's in Well 15 may need to be taken in the future.