Water Quality

Linnwood Water Treatment Plant Laboratory

Protecting Public Health

Milwaukee’s recognition as a national leader in water quality is based on its vigilant water quality monitoring program and pure, safe drinking water.

The Milwaukee Water Works (MWW) is recognized as a national leader for providing safe, high-quality drinking water that meets all regulations, and our water quality monitoring, or testing, that goes above and beyond requirements. Crystal-clear Milwaukee water is provided fresh and pure 24 hours each day. We treat Lake Michigan water with ozone disinfection, biologically active filtration, and chloramine disinfection. Since 1993, the Milwaukee Water Works has invested $441 million in its infrastructure, as reported to the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSC), to ensure a reliable supply of pure, safe drinking water. A public utility belongs to all of us. Revenue is reinvested in utility infrastructure.

While providing fresh, safe water for a healthful quality of life, we provide commercial and manufacturing business, and research with a reliable supply of high-quality water at a low price.

Water quality and operations are regulated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR), and the Wisconsin Department of Health Services. Rates are regulated by the PSC.

Milwaukee Water has no blue-green algae problem
Milwaukee water is free and clear of the cyanotoxin microcystin. Water quality test results received Aug. 7, 2014 found there were no detections of microcystin toxins in any of the samples collected  Aug. 5 from the Lake Michigan source water and the finished water from both of our water treatment plants. Milwaukee has no history of toxic algae blooms that affected drinking water quality while Toledo had problems. Read more.

Here's an overview of the Milwaukee Water Works' water quality program.

Chromium-6 -- The Milwaukee Water Works conducts quarterly monitoring and reporting for Cr-6 as federal regulators and the drinking water industry research how much, if any, Cr-6 (also referred to as hexavalent chromium) might pose a health risk in drinking water. Cr-6 is a naturally occurring contaminant and an industrial chemical that has been linked to cancer. The City of Milwaukee Health Department (MHD) in 2011 determined there remains no evidence of an imminent public health risk or threat of acute illness based on MWW monitoring results.

Cr-6 is included in the EPA Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule-3 (UCMR-3) mandatory monitoring which requires quarterly monitoring of water treatment plant finished water and water in the distribution system from one site per each of the two treatment plants. Total Chromium is regulated by the EPA via the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) while Cr-6 is not regulated. The EPA is reviewing a proposal to set a safe level, known as a Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL), for Cr-6, and is assessing health effects based on available data. EPA has not yet provided any risk context for the sampling or any operational guidance if Cr-6 was detected. MWW began monitoring for Cr-6 after a January 2011 EPA guidance in which utilities were encouraged to conduct Cr-6 sampling at treatment plants (source and finished) and in the distribution system on a quarterly basis. MWW is prepared to respond, as it did by immediately ordering tests for chromium-6, to protect public health and meet federal and state water quality standards.

Fluoride -- Fluoride, in low levels in drinking water, is proven to help prevent tooth decay. Milwaukee began adding fluoride to its water in 1953 when the Common Council enacted an ordinance directing its use. The American Dental Association (ADA) endorsed fluoridation in 1950 and reaffirmed its endorsement in 1997. The American Medical Association also endorsed fluoridation and reaffirmed its use, in 1951 and 1996, respectively. The U.S. Public Health Service has also endorsed fluoridation. (Source: American Water Works Association)

The Milwaukee Water Works adds fluoride to the treated drinking water. Milwaukee tap water is fluoridated at a level that does not exceed 0.7 mg/L of fluoride. this level conforms with regulations. Find additional information on the web sites of the Centers for Disease Control www.cdc.gov/fluoridation, Health and Human Services www.hhs.gov and the Milwaukee Health Department http://city.milwaukee.gov/Health.
Notice to Parents of Infants Six Months of Age or Younger (Print a copy of the notice in English/en español)
According to the Centers for Disease Control, the proper amount of fluoride from infancy throughout life at all ages helps prevent and control tooth decay (cavities). Therefore, the Milwaukee Water Works, following public health recommendations, maintains a level of fluoride in the drinking water that is both safe and effective.

Per Common Council File No. 120187 adopted on July 24, 2012, the utility is required to post the following advisory regarding fluoride and young infants: 
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of a child’s life, followed by continued breastfeeding as complementary foods are introduced, for optimal short- and long-term health advantages. Go to >http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/129/3/e827.full> for more information. As of Aug. 31, 2012, Milwaukee water is fluoridated at a level not to exceed 0.7 mg/L. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), for infants up to six months of age, if tap water is fluoridated or has substantial natural fluoride (0.7 mg/L or higher) and is being used to dilute infant formula, a parent may consider using a low-fluoride alternative water source. Bottled water known to be low in fluoride is labeled as purified, deionized, demineralized, distilled, or prepared by reverse osmosis. Ready-to-feed (no-mix) infant formula typically has little fluoride and may be preferable at least some of the time. If breastfeeding is not possible, parents should consult a pediatrician about an appropriate infant formula option. Parents should be aware that there may be an increased chance of mild dental fluorosis if the child is exclusively consuming infant formula reconstituted with fluoridated water. Dental fluorosis is a term that covers a range of visible changes to the enamel surface of the tooth. Go to http://www.cdc.gov/fluoridation/safety/infant_formula.htm> for more information on dental fluorosis and the use of fluoridated drinking water in infant formula.

Aviso para los padres de niños pequeños y de hasta seis meses de edad
De acuerdo a los Centros para el Control y la Prevención de Enfermedades (CDC, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), la cantidad adecuada de fluoruro desde la infancia y en todas las etapas posteriores de la vida ayuda a prevenir y controlar las caries dentales. Por esta razón, el Departamento de Agua de Milwaukee adopta las recomendaciones sobre salud pública y, en consecuencia, mantiene en el agua potable un nivel de fluoruro sano y eficaz. En cumplimiento de lo dispuesto por el registro del Consejo Municipal (Common Council) número 120187, adoptado el 24 de julio del 2012, estamos obligados a publicar la siguiente notificación acerca del fluoruro y los niños pequeños:

“La Academia Estadounidense de Pediatría (American Academy of Pediatrics) recomienda la leche materna como único alimento en los primeros seis meses de vida. Y, a partir de entonces, la continuación de la lactancia mientras se incorporan alimentos complementarios a la dieta, para fomentar el buen estado de salud a corto y largo plazo. Para más información, visite <http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/129/3/e827.full>. Desde el 31 de agusto del 2012 , el agua de la Ciudad de Milwaukee se suministra con un nivel de fluoruro de 0.7 mg/L. Según datos de los CDC, si el agua es fluorada o naturalmente tiene un nivel considerable de fluoruro (0.7 mg/L o más), se recomienda que los niños pequeños de hasta seis meses de edad consuman una fuente de agua alternativa con poco fluoruro si los padres utilizan agua de la llave para mezclar o diluir fórmula alimenticia para el pequeño. El agua en botella con baja concentración de fluoruro contiene en la etiqueta las palabras: purificada, desionizada, desmineralizada, destilada o preparada por ósmosis inversa (purified / deionized / demineralized / distilled / reverse osmosis). La fórmula lista para consumir (ready to feed) suele tener poco fluoruro y puede ser una opción en algunas ocasiones. Si no es posible amamantar, los padres deben preguntarle al pediatra cuál es la mejor opción de fórmula. Los padres deben tener presente que los bebés que se alimentan exclusivamente con fórmula preparada con agua fluorada pueden tener una mayor probabilidad de sufrir una leve fluorosis dental. El término “fluorosis dental” abarca una variedad de cambios en la superficie del esmalte de los dientes. Visite <http://www.cdc.gov/fluoridation/safety/infant_formula.htm> para más información sobre fluorosis dental y el uso de agua potable fluorada en la fórmula para lactantes.”

Consumer Confidence Report 

Public water systems are required by the EPA to provide an annual Consumer Confidence Report (en español) to customers. The report is intended to improve public health protection by providing educational material to allow consumers to make educated decisions regarding any potential health risks pertaining to the quality, treatment, and management of their drinking water supply. Milwaukee's report is mailed to customers with their second quarter bills, during April, May, and June.