Milwaukee To Offer Free And Discounted Water Filters To Households With Lead Lines

Program Especially Aimed At Homes With Pregnant Women, Young Children
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Chuck Quirmbach/Wisconsin Public Radio

Free and discounted water filtration devices will be offered to Milwaukee residents with lead service lines.

Free water filters will be available to thousands of people in Milwaukee who live in homes with lead water service lines. Those pipes, also known as laterals, connect water mains in the street to pipes in the home.

Milwaukee is following the lead of other cities, including Flint, Michigan, with plans to provide free water filters to thousands of residents who have lead lines connecting their homes to water mains in the street.

A local filter manufacturer and the Milwaukee's United Way chapter are teaming up with the Milwaukee Health Department to provide at least 2,000 free filters to households with pregnant women and children under the age of 6.

The United Way's Nicole Angresano said the filter and a replacement should last a year.

"It's great for now. We know it's not the end-all we need to do," she said. "We need to figure how to get the pipes clean, how to have no leaded homes, whether it's [lead in] paint or water. But I think to have a safe water supply for a year at no cost to many consumers, many of whom are most vulnerable in our community, I think that's a big deal."

Other people can buy the filtration devices at a discount.

Milwaukee Health Commissioner Bevan Baker said the city is also working on replacing more of the lead pipes that may leach lead into tap water.

"As it relates to when the work would start, certainly the monies from the state Department of Natural Resources [a federally-funded state effort, announced this year by the DNR] — once that money is in hand, a very aggressive replacement strategy that we'll work with the Department of Public Works to get that in place. That information should be forthcoming, " Baker said at a Monday news conference announcing the filter offer.

Critics have expressed concern that the federal money allotted for Milwaukee would only cover a small amount of the city's total lead service lines.

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