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Lead-Safe Milwaukee

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The City of Milwaukee Health Department currently recommends that families who live in homes with lead service lines or plumbing and have pregnant, breastfeeding women, and children under the age of six in the home, especially bottle-fed infants, use a drinking water filter certified to remove lead. The Health Department also recommends that all children be tested three times before the age of 3. Children ages 6 months to 3 years are at greatest risk for lead exposure because of their rapid growth and development, along with their increasing mobility and hand-to-mouth activity.
Children under the age of 6 years old should be tested if they have no record of a previous test, have a history of lead exposure, or if they are at greater risk for lead exposure. Increased risk may mean living in housing built before 1978 with recent or ongoing renovation or having a sibling or playmate who has an elevated blood lead level. Current federal rules require that all children enrolled in Medicaid receive a blood lead test.

 

The City of Milwaukee has begun the systematic replacement of lead service lines (LSL) with copper. The available amount of money for the program limits the number targeted for 2017. We are replacing only lead services lines that are found to be leaking, are damaged during planned construction, or when the utility replaces the city owned section on a planned or emergency basis. The Milwaukee Water Works immediately notifies property owners and explains the options for paying for replacement. Instead of repair or partial replacement, the city requires the replacement of the entire lead service line from the city owned section from cast iron water main to the curbstop at the property line and the privately-owned section from the curbstop to water meter in the building.

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)


If you live in a home with a lead service line or internal plumbing and fixtures that may contain lead, there are several steps you can take to reduce your risk of lead exposure:

1. Run your water until it’s cold. Before using tap water for drinking or cooking, run the cold water for at least three minutes 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. Families with pregnant or breastfeeding women and children under age 6 should use a drinking water filter certified to remove lead. Tap water can safely be used for activities such as bathing, washing hands, washing dishes, laundry, etc. These activities help flush the pipes.

2. 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 filtered water  especially for making bottles for a baby. 

3. 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 all 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.
  • The City of Milwaukee Health Department (MHD) recommends that all children be tested three times before the age of 3. Children ages 6 months to 3 years are at greatest risk for lead exposure because of their rapid growth and development, along with their increasing mobility and hand-to-mouth activity.
  • Children under the age of 6 years old should be tested if they have no record of a previous test, have a history of lead exposure, or if they are at greater risk for lead exposure. Increased risk may mean living in housing built before 1978 with recent or ongoing renovation or having a sibling or playmate who has an elevated blood lead level.  Current federal rules require that all children enrolled in Medicaid receive a blood lead test.

Other steps to consider:

  • Purchase a home filtration system. Drinking water filtration systems or pour-through filters can reduce or eliminate lead. These are available at area stores and online. Look for products certified by NSF, WQA, or UL under Standard 53 for Lead Removal. Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for installing and maintaining the filter. Find a list from the NSF at http://www.nsf.org/. Here is a list from the Milwaukee Health Department: Water Filters to Remove Lead/Filtros de agua para remover Plomo
     
  • Replace your lead service line or interior plumbing.  A licensed plumber can provide an estimate. If you decide to do this, please call the Milwaukee Water Works, (414) 286-3710, for more information. Replacement of the lead service line with copper will eliminate the risk of exposure to lead in drinking water if the rest of the internal plumbing is made of copper. However, it is possible sources of lead will remain in internal plumbing. Hire a licensed plumber to replace lead pipes, lead solder on copper or galvanized plumbing, galvanized steel and some fixtures, like a kitchen faucet.
     
  • Have your water tested for lead. Find a list of laboratories certified by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources for drinking water. The Milwaukee Water Works and the City of Milwaukee Health Department do not recommend or offer water testing. Here are two labs in the Milwaukee area and the State Lab of Hygiene in Madison. Laboratorios acreditados en el área de Milwaukee para el análisis de plomo (Pb) en el agua potable

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.

We recommend you flush your household plumbing at the end of each work day to clear pipes of any particles that may have come loose during work.
•    Remove the screen and aerator from the end of every faucet.
•    Start in the basement or lowest level and work your way to the top floor.
•    Fully open each cold water tap and allow the water to run. Your water should be clear after 10 minutes. The cost to flush four taps for 10 minutes is about 16 cents.
•    Start at the top floor and turn off the water at each faucet, finishing in the basement.
•    Rinse and re-attach the screens and aerators to the faucets.
•    If the water is discolored, flush until clear, about 30 minutes. If it is still discolored, please call the Milwaukee Water Works (MWW) Control Center, (414) 286-3710.

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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