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Lead and Drinking Water

Informacion sobre el plomo y la seguridad del agua potable

 


The City of Milwaukee requires the full replacement of lead service lines with copper when they are found to be leaking, failed or damaged. Partial replacements and repair only are no longer acceptable. The Milwaukee Water Works is also replacing lead service lines at 385 licensed child care facilities and eight private schools.

Search our records to see if a property has a lead service line -- scroll down

 

About Lead

When lead is found in drinking water it is usually because lead can dissolve from lead service lines and plumbing fixtures, especially when water sits unused for several hours. To prevent lead from dissolving into the water, we add a compound that forms a protective coating inside pipes. We have provided this corrosion control since 1996 to meet Environmental Protection Agency standards. 

Years ago, lead was used in paint, plumbing, and other products. The most common source of lead is from paint in older homes built before 1978. Lead can cause health problems if it enters your body. Since lead can accumulate in the body, the City of Milwaukee Health Department recommends that all sources of lead exposure to children, pregnant women and breastfeeding women, should be eliminated to prevent childhood lead poisoning. Know the Sources of Lead.

Does your property have a lead service line?
Of the approximate 169,000 water service lines in Milwaukee, about 70,000 residential propertes and about 6,000 commercial properties have lead service lines. The service line connects the water main in the street to the property. As shown below, the City of Milwaukee owns the section he service line from the water main to the curb stop at the property line. The property owner owns the section of the service line from the curb stop to the water meter. Using the year a house was built is not the best way to determine whether a service line is made of lead.Diagram o fWater Main and Service Line. Click to enlarge


Search our records to see if a property has a lead service line -- Find properties listed by address: These are lists of properties with a meter installed in the building and an active billing account that have a lead service line from the water main to the curbstop. In most cases, if this city-owned section is made of lead, the property owner's side of the service line connecting the curb stop to the water meter also is made of lead.

The lists here are the best available information we have. MWW does not have records of the material used for the privately-owned portion of the water-service line or even whether the material on the private side has been changed. Unless MWW has information to the contrary, MWW assumes that the material used on the private side is the same as the material used on the public side of the water-service line. Some properties, such as those in the former Town of Lake area, are not included here because the information was not available at the time service was moved to the Milwaukee Water Works. As lead service lines are replaced, this database will be updated. Please call Customer Service if you replaced your lead service line during or before 2016.

If a property does not have a meter or active billing account, it still may have a lead service line but may not appear on this list. If you are inquiring about a property that may not have a meter or an active billing account, please contact Customer Service, (414) 286-2830, or email watwebcs@milwaukee.gov. 

If an address has a meter installed and an active billing account but it is not listed here, it likely has a copper service line. However, if your property is a corner lot, please contact Customer Service to verify the service material.

Map of Properties with Lead Service LineAddress beginning with North
(as in N. 50th St. or N. Booth St.)

Address beginning with East

Address beginning with West

Address beginning with South

Master List of all properties (A compilation of the four lists above,  in an Excel document)


Take these steps to reduce exposure to lead in water if you have a lead service line:

Flush your plumbing. Before using tap water for drinking or cooking, run the cold water until it is noticeably colder. Do this especially if the water has been standing unused in your pipes for several hours, overnight or while everyone is away at school and work. Tap water can safely be used for activities such as bathing, washing hands, washing dishes, laundry, etc. These activities help flush the pipes.

You may want to fill a pitcher with water after flushing the pipes and store it in the refrigerator so you always have cold, clean water ready for drinking. For households with residents or visitors who include children under the age of 6 and women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, the City of Milwaukee Health Department recommends using only bottled water from a lead-free source or cold, filtered tap water to make formula, concentrated juices, and for cooking and drinking.

Drink and cook only with water from the cold tap. Never drink or cook with water from the hot water tap. Hot water dissolves lead from pipes. Boiling the water does not remove lead. Use cold water tap especially for making bottles for a baby. It is important for families who live in homes with lead service lines and who have children under six or pregnant women or breastfeeding women in the home, to consider using a water filtration system that is certified to remove lead. 

Regularly remove the screen and aerator from faucets, rinse out any particles, and re-attach. Do this once a month, or more frequently is there is water utility construction work nearby. The particles may contain lead and could collect at the faucet.

The City of Milwaukee Health Department recommends any households with residents or visitors that include children under the age of 6, and women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should also:

  • Only use bottled water from a known lead-free source or cold, filtered tap water (use an NSF/ANSI Standard 53 certified water filtration device) to make formula, concentrated juices, and for cooking and drinking. If using water directly from the faucet, use only water from the cold water tap that has been well-flushed for a minimum of three minutes.
  • Get a test for blood lead level for your children. The City of Milwaukee Health Department advises parents and health care providers to follow the “3 before 3” guidance by testing children for elevated blood lead levels three times before the age of 3. Consult your health care provider or the City of Milwaukee Health Department for further information.

Other steps to consider:

After any water utility work or internal plumbing work, it is important that you flush your plumbing.
Physical disturbance of the lead service line or lead plumbing by activities such as water main replacement, service line leaks, home plumbing repair, water meter replacement, or main breaks may release lead into the water.

Here’s how to flush your household plumbing after work is completed: 

  • Remove screens and aerators from the end of all faucets and rinse particles from them.
     
  • Starting in the lowest level (basement) and working to the top floor, turn on the cold water.
     
  • After the water runs for 5-10 minutes, start at the top floor and turn off the water, finishing in the basement. Re-attach the screens and aerators to the faucets. The cost to flush the whole house is about 16 cents.

If you have questions about lead in drinking water, call Milwaukee Water Works Customer Service, (414) 286-2830. Non-emergency email: watwebcs@milwaukee.gov

If you have questions about the health effects related to lead in drinking water, call the City of Milwaukee Health Department, (414) 286-3521.

Customer Service Center

Zeidler Municipal Building
841 N. Broadway, Room 406
Milwaukee, WI 53202

Telephone (414) 286-2830

Customer Service Center Hours:
Monday - Friday - 7:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

Customer Service

Fax

(414) 286-2830

(414) 286-5452

24-Hour Control Center (414) 286-3710
TDD (414) 286-8801
Email (non-emergency)
U.S. Mail Milwaukee Water Works
P.O. Box 3268
Milwaukee, WI 53201-3268

Contact Us

Questions about lead in drinking water?

Milwaukee Water Works

(414) 286-2585

Questions about the health effects related to lead in drinking water?

Milwaukee Health Department

(414) 286-3521

Lead Testing

The Milwaukee Water Works and the Milwaukee Health Department do not offer testing of water. Please consult this list: Commercial Laboratories that analyze water for lead  Laboratorios acreditados para el análisis de plomo en el agua potable

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