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Water Treatment

The Milwaukee Water Works treats Lake Michigan water at the Linnwood Water Treatment Plant on the north side and the Howard Avenue Water Treatment Plant on the south side. The Linnwood intake is  1.25 miles from the shore at a depth of 60 feet. The Texas Avenue intake supplying the Howard Avenue Water Treatment Plant is 2.5 miles from shore, also at a depth of 60 feet.  The lake water passes through a multiple barrier treatment process barriers to protect public health. The barriers destroy and remove illness-causing microorganisms in the lake water.

The primary form of disinfection is ozone gas. In the first stage of water treatment, ozone is bubbled into the water in large contactor tanks. This highly reactive gas destroys illness-causing microorganisms such as Cryptosporidium and Giardia, and harmful compounds. Ozone breaks apart compounds that can cause taste and odor. Its use reduces the formation of disinfection byproducts.

Particles in the water are then removed through coagulation, flocculation, settling, and biologically active filtration.Chlorine is added as a secondary disinfectant. Fluoride is added to reduce dental cavities. A phosphorous compound is added to control pipe corrosion to prevent lead that may be present in pipes from leaching into the water. Finally, chloramine disinfection maintains a residual in the distribution system to protect against bacterial contamination. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) requires water utilities to maintain a detectable level of disinfectant throughout the distribution system to maintain bacteriological protection.

All chemicals that are added are certified food grade, safe for human consumption. The Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition System (SCADA) at both treatment plants provides real-time data from chemical feed systems, including ozone, and all water quality monitoring as well as control of water pumping stations and the distribution system. Pure, fresh water arrives at your taps.

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City of Freshwater

You can see how the Milwaukee Water Works fits into the Milwaukee freshwater cycle by visiting our exhibit at Discovery World.

Microscopic organisms, "bugs", used in cleaning wastewater

Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District

After we purify the water, we pump it into the distribution system of water mains to your service line pipe, and through the water meter into your home. After you use water, it leaves your home through the sanitary sewer pipe and flows to the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District treatment facility where it is treated and returned to Lake Michigan.

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Customer Service Center

Zeidler Municipal Building
841 N. Broadway, Room 406
Milwaukee, WI 53202
Monday - Friday 7:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.


 (414) 286-2830

24-Hour Control Center  

 (414) 286-3710


 (414) 286-8801


 (414) 286-5452

Email (non-emergency)


News Media
Sandy Rusch Walton     

(414) 286-3261

U.S. Mail 

P.O. Box 3268
Milwaukee, WI