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About the Milwaukee Water Works

The Milwaukee Water Works (MWW) is a national leader in providing high quality, healthful drinking water. We are recognized by the water community for our comprehensive water quality monitoring and applied research.

The Milwaukee Water Works was organized on April 18, 1871 and began operations September 14, 1874. We are proud to serve as the longest continuously operating water utility in Wisconsin. The utility is  owned utility of the City of Milwaukee. Policy is set by the Mayor and Common Council. We follow regulations of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) for facilities, operations, and water quality. The Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSC) sets water rates and service charges and monitors our accounting.

We purify Lake Michigan water to provide pure and fresh drinking water to 865,000 people in 16 communities in Milwaukee, Ozaukee and Waukesha Counties.

  • Average daily pumpage in 2016 was 97 million gallons, down from 98 million in 2015.
  • The daily per-person, indoor and outdoor use in Milwaukee was 41 gallons in 2016.
  • The utility has 312 employees in Plants, Distribution, Business, Engineering, and Water Quality work units.
  • 2016 Utility Statistics
  • View all annual reports

Since 1993, the Milwaukee Water Works has invested $508 million in its infrastructure, to ensure a reliable supply of pure, safe drinking water.


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Water Treatment

The Milwaukee Water Works treats Lake Michigan water with ozone as the primary disinfectant to destroy microorganisms that cause disease, reduce the formation of disinfection byproducts, and remove taste and odor. Particles are removed through coagulation, flocculation, settling, and biologically active filtration. Chlorine is a secondary disinfectant. Fluoride is added to reduce dental cavities. A phosphorous compound is added to control pipe corrosion to prevent lead and copper that may be present in pipes from leaching into the water. Chloramine disinfection maintains a residual in the distribution system. We continuously conduct water quality monitoring, or sampling, from the lake source water to the distribution system of 1,956 miles of water mains that carry over 100 million gallons of treated water every day.

The treated water enters homes and businesses through a service line pipe and a water meter. After you use water, it leaves your property through the sanitary sewer pipe and flows to the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District treatment facility where it is treated and returned to Lake Michigan.

A Milwaukee is a National Leader in Water Quality

The Water Research Foundation (WRF) awarded its 2016 Outstanding Subscriber Award for Applied Research to the Milwaukee Water Works. The award honors member utilities that have successfully applied WRF research to make notable improvements to their water treatment, delivery and management processes and "celebrates the persistence and dedication of some of WRF's most influential partners."  Milwaukee water continues to participate in WRF projects benefitting the drinking water community, as seen in a video here. Read the Milwaukee Water Works and Ozone story.

The Wisconsin Section of the American Water Works Association presented its 2016 Utility Special Achievement Award to the Milwaukee Water Works for working effectively with health and regulatory agencies to shape field and water quality monitoring activities and customer outreach to reduce lead at customers’ taps. Read about the Lead Service Line award.

The MWW water quality team was published nationally in January when the Journal of the American Water Works Association ran their research findings about lead and drinking water sampling, which were reviewed by the City of Milwaukee Health Department, Wisconsin Department of Health Services and Department of Natural Resources and EPA. Access is available to members of the AWWA: "Lead Water Service Lines: Extensive Sampling and Field Protocol Protects Public Health"

Sustainability Practices

Milwaukee is enriched with an abundant water resource in Lake Michigan. Water treated and used is returned to the lake. The Milwaukee Water Works practices environmental stewardship, reducing its energy, carbon, and water footprints to use water wisely and conserve energy resources.

A Century of Water

The Milwaukee Water Works was established 145 years ago on April 18, 1871. The utility began operations on Sept. 14, 1874. We are proud to serve as the longest continuously operating water utility in the State of Wisconsin.

Read about the origin and development of the Milwaukee Water Works, "A Century of Milwaukee Water" by Elmer W. Becker, Former Superintendent (1964-1972). The 29 chapters are divided here in thirds. Find the Table of Contents on page 2.

Milwaukee, A City Built on Water

Historian John Gurda explores how the Milwaukee River and Lake Michigan spurred Milwaukee's growth. (A production of Wisconsin Eye Public Affairs Network in collaboration with Milwaukee Public Television.)

Customer Service Center

M-F   7:30 am - 5:00 pm (414) 286-2830
24-Hour Control Center (414) 286-3710
Email (non-emergency)
North Point Tower

MWW History & North Point Tower

A national landmark, Milwaukee's 175-foot Victorian Gothic tower guards the bluff above Lake Michigan at 2288 N. Lake Dr. at North Avenue. It was part of the first water works in 1873. The 140-year-old tower houses a tall open standpipe that absorbed pulsations of water from steam-driven engines in the pumping station below the hill.
Service Area Map

Service Area

MWW serves 11 wholesale clients who operate their own water utilities, bill customers and maintain the distribution system.
Retail customers receive full water service from MWW, including customer billing and distribution system maintenance.

Wholesale customers

  • Brown Deer
  • Butler
  • Greendale
  • Menomonee Falls
  • Mequon
  • Milwaukee County Grounds
  • New Berlin
  • Shorewood
  • Thiensville
  • Wauwatosa
  • West Allis

Retail customers

  • Greenfield
  • Hales Corners
  • St. Francis
  • Franklin (a portion)
  • West Milwaukee receives billing services from MWW and maintains its own distribution system. 


American Water Works Association Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies
Water Research Foundation Wisconsin Section of the American Water Works Association