Problems We Found in Madison, WI Drinking Water


Emma Schultz, M.S.  |  Scientific Contributor   

For our assessment of Madison tap & drinking water, we aggregated water quality test data from Madison Water Utility, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), as well as from samples that we collect and analyze. We cross reference these data with toxicity studies in the scientific and medical literature, and look at upcoming regulatory changes.The water filters that we sell in Madison are optimized with these issues in mind.

Source Of Madison Drinking Water

Madison tap water is groundwater-sourced, and comes from a sandstone aquifer underneath the city. Madison Water Utility utilizes 22 wells (reaching as far underground as 1179 feet) and 30 reservoirs, including 5 elevated water towers.

PFAS in Madison Drinking Water 

Madison Water Utility confirmed that various PFAS chemicals were present in all city wells, as of August, 2020. The concentrations ranged from 2.5 to 47 parts per billion for total PFAS. This category of harmful chemicals is not yet regulated by EPA, and therefore there are no enforceable limits in drinking water. 

Per and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) are a category of emerging contaminants and are both mobile and persistent in the environment. PFAS are found in a variety of products including Scotchguard, Teflon, firefighting foam, metal plating, heat and water repellent products, and stain resistant fabrics. Health effects associated with PFAS contaminated drinking water are becoming more widely accepted throughout regulatory bodies. According to the Agency for Toxic Substance and Disease Registry, PFAS are associated with a long list of health effects including an increased risk of cancer, lowered fertility rates, increased cholesterol, and developmental issues in young children and infants.

Lead In Madison Drinking Water

Lead enters into Madison's tap & drinking water through old lead service pipes and lead-containing plumbing. When corrosion control measures fail (such as what happened in Flint, Michigan), lead leaches into the drinking water and can reach hazardous levels. Recent analysis for lead in Madison found a 90th percentile concentration of 3.2 ppb, with an upper range of 26 ppb. While the Action Level is 15 ppb, both the EPA and CDC recognize that there is no such thing as a safe level of lead. Of course, federal regulations cannot take into account levels measured at an individual tap.

High Levels Of Chromium 6 In Madison Drinking Water

Chromium 6 is a highly toxic metal that is not regulated by EPA. A recent city of Madison water quality report revealed an average of 500 parts per trillion (ppt) for chromium 6, with samples ranging up to 2000 ppt. Average levels are 55 times higher (and the upper range is 100 times higher) than the concentration determined to have a negligible impact on cancer risk.

Chlorine In Madison Tap Water

Like most cities in the United States, Madison adds chlorine to its water supply to keep consumers safe from waterborne pathogens. While not considered harmful in low concentrations, many people find that removing the chlorine from their water supply results in a taste and odor improvement. When you choose to filter your tap water, we believe you will notice an immediate taste enhancement.

Still Have Questions About Madison’s Tap Water?

Hydroviv is a water filtration company that uses water quality data to optimize water filters for each city’s water. The chemicals that we list above are what we consider to be “points of emphasis” so we can build the best water filter for Madison tap water, but all of our water filters provide broad protection against other contaminants commonly found in drinking water (e.g. VOCs, heavy metals [including lead], pharmaceuticals, solvents, pesticides, mercury).

If you’re interested in learning more about water filters that have been optimized for Madison tap water, feel free to visit, reach out by email ( or through our live chat. We also frequently post water-related news on Twitter or Facebook.

Please Share This City of Madison Water Quality Article On Social Media With Anyone You Think Would Benefit From The Information!

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