Aecom hired to rid Wisconsin city’s water of dangerous ‘forever chemicals’

The company’s work in Madison, pictured here with Lake Mendota in the foreground, will lead to the state’s first municipal PFAS treatment facility (Av9/CC BY-SA 4.0)
Aecom has been awarded a contract to design systems to remove so-called “forever chemicals” – a phrase used to describe dangerous per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS – from the drinking water in Madison, Wisconsin.

PFAS are a group of chemicals used for decades in products ranging from non-stick cookware and fast-food wrappers to stain-resistant sprays and some types of firefighting foams.

Having made their way into the environment through spills and contaminated discharges, PFAS do not break down and have been discovered at concentrations of concern in ground and surface water.

They accumulate in fish and animals as well as in the human body, posing risks to health. Wisconsin monitors nearly 50 sites across the state for PFAS contamination.

Aecom will deliver engineering design for the installation of treatment systems, leading to Wisconsin’s first municipal PFAS treatment facility.

Working for the city’s Water Utility, Aecom will also use granular-activated carbon filtration technology to rehabilitate a municipal well in which PFAS were first detected in 2017.

“In the last two years, we’ve worked with more than a dozen Wisconsin clients to monitor and treat this ‘forever chemical’ at sites across the state,” said Travis Boone, chief executive of Aecom’s US West region.

He said the project would “help Madison leverage the latest federal and state funds to continue to provide safe, high-quality drinking water to its residents”.

“PFAS contamination is one of the greatest environmental concerns of our time,” said Rosa Gwinn, vice president and global PFAS technical lead with Aecom.

To restore operation and introduce treatment technologies, Aecom will deliver bench scale testing for PFAS removal using Rapid Small-Scale Column Testing (RSSCT) and design for renovation of well facilities to incorporate PFAS treatment and upgrade controls, structural elements, HVAC systems, and electrical components.

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