M.K DeSantis, Pegasus Technical Services for U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Series: Drinking Water Quality

Drinking water quality varies across in Wisconsin. In communities with public utilities, drinking water is subject to disparate levels of treatment depending on local needs and budget concerns. Nearly one million households get their water from private wells, which depend on property owners for monitoring and treatment. Across the state, many natural processes and human activities can introduce pathogens and chemical contaminants into water supplies. Wherever their drinking water comes from, Wisconsinites can use various resources to better understand and improve its quality.
 
The distribution of drinking water ties Wisconsin's major population centers together, and shapes local economies and political dynamics. Local governments depend on and sometimes battle with each other to ensure access to drinking water sources, and the infrastructure necessary for treatment.
As the groundwater education specialist for the Center for Watershed Science and Education at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Kevin Masarik gets a lot of questions from Wisconsin residents about their well water and how to go about testing its safety. Here are a few basic questions I regularly encounter.
Monster soup
For those Wisconsinites who use a well, here are nine tips for making sure their drinking water is as safe as possible.
Roman lead water pipe
The term "corrosion" has leached its way into public discussion about drinking water over recent weeks, thanks largely to the roiling water crisis in Flint, Michigan.
Joe Grande
Public policies addressing lead in drinking water have serious holes, as reports from Wisconsin Public Radio and the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism revealed this week. But Wisconsin is also the home of one of the more ambitious lead-mitigation projects in U.S. history.
E coli
About 2 million children die each year from waterborne disease, primarily acquired by drinking water contaminated by pathogens, including bacteria, protozoa and viruses.
Reports of lead contamination in Flint, Michigan's water supply has people across the country questioning the safety of their own water.
Gooseneck pipes
About 39 percent of Wisconsin's households get their drinking water from private wells while most of the rest of the state's 5.7 million people rely on public utilities for this basic necessity. But utility customers across Wisconsin get their water on very different terms.
Madison water quality manager Joe Grande said the city finished replacing its lead water pipes in 2012, making it a nationwide model.
faucet
Although nearly 900,000 Wisconsin households rely on private wells for drinking water, its quality is not a matter of certainty.