Pryor Avenue Iron Well
Milwaukee’s historic Pryor Avenue Well in Bay View is back in service after routine maintenance in mid November. The well is located in the 1700 block of East Pryor Avenue west of South Superior Avenue.
Advance Restoration cleaned the brick exterior, or monument, and reapplied waterproofing material to seal it. This was required to maintain the warranty on the brick that was recently installed. The Milwaukee Water Works disinfected exposed fittings, turned on the pump, and flushed the water. A sample of the water found it to be free of bacteria. Also, a sample of water was collected from the well and tested for lead and copper. Both the lead sample result of <0.1 micrograms/liter, and, the copper sample result of <0.3 micrograms/liter were well below the EPA action levels.The EPA action level for lead is 15 micrograms/liter. The EPA action level for copper is 1200 micrograms/liter.
The well is the last remaining public well in Milwaukee. It is owned by the City of Milwaukee. The Milwaukee Water Works maintains the site of the well but does not treat the water. The well is not connected to the water utility's purification and distribution system. The Milwaukee Water Works holds a Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) permit for a "transient, non-community well." The DNR privatized its water testing in 2011 and awarded the contract to the Ozaukee County Health Department, which tests the water for Total Coliform Bacteria monthly and for Nitrates annually, and performs periodic inspections.
The Pryor Avenue Well dates back to 1882, when it was measured at over 1,500 feet deep. The well originally was an artesian well, in which groundwater rose to the surface by natural pressure. The aquafer pressure dropped over time and a submersible electric pump was installed in the 1980s. The well depth as of December 2014 was 118 feet. The Milwaukee Historic Preservation Commission designated it a historic structure in 1987.
The well was lovingly restored in 2011-2014 by friends, neighbors, the Bay View Neighborhood Association, and the Bay View Historical Society. They volunteered their time and worked with a contractor they selected and hired, with the approval of Ald. Tony Zielinski and the Milwaukee Water Works. Restoration of the monument covering the well to its original appearance of 1919 was approved by Historic Preservation Commission. The group also restored the Clement Avenue-brick-covered pavement around the well.
Strontium levels in the Pryor Avenue Iron Well water exceed the USEPA Lifetime Health Advisory Level (HAL). You may wish to consider avoiding consumption of water from this source. Please read this notice for more information or call the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, (608) 266-1120, or the City of Milwaukee Health Department, (414) 286-3521. This notice does not apply to Milwaukee’s treated drinking water.
Strontium is a naturally occurring element found in the earth, including the bedrock of natural underground aquifers. The strontium in this well is thought to be from natural sources. It is important to note that consuming strontium at levels exceeding the HAL will not necessarily lead to health effects. The USEPA may regulate strontium in the future.