Manganese in Madison’s Drinking Water

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Public concern over events of manganese-discolored drinking water and the potential for adverse health effects from exposure to excess manganese reached a high level in 2005. In response, Public Health Madison Dane County, together with the Madison Water Utility, conceived and implemented a public health/water utility strategy to quantify the extent of the manganese problem, determine the potential for adverse human health effects, and communicate these findings to the community. This strategy included five basic parts: taking an inventory of wells and their manganese levels, correlating manganese concentration with turbidity, determining the prevalence and distribution of excess manganese in Madison households, reviewing the available scientific literature, and effectively communicating our findings to the community. The year-long public health/water utility strategy successfully resolved the crisis of confidence in the safety of Madison’s drinking water.

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