About Milwaukee Water Works
The Milwaukee Water Works (MWW) is a national leader in providing high quality, healthful drinking water and is recognized for a comprehensive program of water quality monitoring. The water works is the publicly owned utility of the City of Milwaukee; policy is set by the Mayor and Common Council. The utility is regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) for facilities, operations, and water quality; and the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSC), for rates and accounting.
Since 1993, the Milwaukee Water Works has invested $508 million in its infrastructure, to ensure a reliable supply of pure, safe drinking water.
The Water Research Foundation (WRF) awarded its Outstanding Subscriber Award for Applied Research to the Milwaukee Water Works in June 2016. The award honors member utilities that have successfully applied WRF research to make notable improvements to their water treatment, delivery and management processes. The award "celebrates the persistence and dedication of some of WRF's most influential partners." The Milwaukee Water Works also was featured as the WRF observed its 50th anniversary in 2016. Milwaukee 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
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
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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.
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.
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.
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.)