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Milwaukee Water Works
# of Lead Service Lines replaced in 2019 = 858
# of Lead Service Lines replaced in 2018 = 931
# of Lead Service Lines replaced in 2017 = 621
There is no lead in Milwaukee's drinking water as it leaves our treatment plants, but lead can dissolve into the water as it sits in lead services lines that connect your house to the water main in the street. Lead also may be present in interior plumbing and fixtures. In the 1900s, lead was cheap, easy to work with and a readily available material to use for services lines and plumbing. But lead service lines pose a risk of lead exposure. Lead can be unsafe when it is swallowed with food or water, or breathed in.
Reduce the risk of exposure to lead in drinking water from lead service lines and interior plumbing and fixtures. If you have:
• Children under 6, especially bottle-fed infants
• Women who are pregnant or may become pregnant (ages 15-45)
• Women who are breastfeeding
We advise you to drink and cook only with tap water filtered with an NSF 53 certified filter. Maintain the filter properly and regularly change the cartridge. City of Milwaukee residents may be eligible for free filters from the Milwaukee Health Department. Call the lead hotline at (414) 286-2165.
If you are not using a filter, drink and cook only with cold water that has been well-flushed for at least three minutes to reduce your risk of lead exposure.
For all who have a lead service line:
• Run your water until it is cold before drinking and cooking with it.
• Drink and cook only with water from the cold water tap.
• Regularly remove and rinse faucet aerators.
• Replace your lead service line and plumbing with copper.
• Flush household plumbing at the end of each work day during construction and when the project is completed, for plumbing work, lead service line replacement, water main replacement, and street and sewer reconstruction. Find instructions here
Milwaukee has been in compliance with federal regulations to control lead in drinking water since 1996. In 1991, the US EPA introduced the Lead and Copper Rule (LCR) to regulate lead and copper in drinking water. In compliance with this rule, and under the direction of the EPA and Wisconsin DNR, Milwaukee Water Works implemented corrosion control in 1996 to reduce lead and copper in tap water. Optimized corrosion control is achieved by adding orthophosphate, a common food addditive approved by the FDA, which coats the pipes and internal plumbing fixtures and significantly reduces lead and copper from dissolving into tap water.
Since corrosion control began in Milwaukee, lead levels have decreased by more than 50%. This graph shows the 90th percentile and median lead levels from Milwaukee EPA Lead and Copper Rule compliance sampling beginning in 1993. You can see how lead levels dropped after corrosion control began.
About lead water service lines
Corrosion control prevents lead from dissolving from lead service lines into the water
Information about water filters
Nutrition and health
Zeidler Municipal Building
841 N. Broadway, Room 406
Milwaukee, WI 53202
Open Monday - Friday 7:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Mailing address: P.O. Box 3268, Milwaukee, WI 53201-3268
24-Hour Control Center
A Sept 2017 EPA report quantified and compared contributions of lead from air, soil/dust, water and food to children's blood lead levels.
Children living in older homes with lead-based paint hazards by far have the most exposure to lead. For 1- to 6- year olds in the top 90-100 percentile, more than 70% of the lead in their blood was from soil and dust.
The contribution of lead from food was 20% and drinking water was 10%. For infants, soil and dust contribute to 50% of the lead in blood, while 40% was from water and 10% from food.
The EPA is evaluating approaches to setting a health-based benchmark for lead in drinking water.
Together, Let's Get the Lead Out
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