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A national landmark, Milwaukee's 175-foot Victorian Gothic tower guards the bluff above Lake Michigan at 2288 N. Lake Dr. at North Avenue. It was part of the first water works in 1873. The 140-year-old tower houses a tall open standpipe that absorbed pulsations of water from steam-driven engines in the pumping station below the hill.
The Milwaukee Water Works is the City of Milwaukee-owned utility that treats Lake Michigan water to provide pure and fresh drinking water to a population of 865,000 in 16 communities. These include Milwaukee, Brown Deer, Butler, Franklin, Greendale, Greenfield, Hales Corners, Menomonee Falls, Mequon, New Berlin, Shorewood, St. Francis, Thiensville, Wauwatosa, West Allis and West Milwaukee. The utility sells water to the Milwaukee County Grounds facilities.
Average daily pumpage in 2013 was 100 million gallons. Total water sales for 2013 were 30.6 billion gallons. Read more statistics for 2013.
The daily per-person, indoor and outdoor use in Milwaukee was 43 gallons in 2013 while the U.S. Geological Survey reports nationwide, daily per-person use of 80-100 gallons.
The utility has 300 employees in Plants, Distribution, Business, Engineering, and Water Quality work units.
Water Treatment Cycle
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 a national leader in producing high quality water and water quality monitoring. Read more about the Water Quality Monitoring Program.
Since 1993, the Milwaukee Water Works has invested $441 million in its infrastructure, as reported to the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin, to ensure a reliable supply of high quality drinking water.
Only tap water delivers public health protection, water for fire suppression, and support for the economy and a high quality of life.
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