Some Milwaukee homeowners and residents were shocked to hear the Mayor of the city issue a warning about their homes last week. During a forum, the Mayor announced that homes build before 1951 should have a water filter installed on their faucets to remove lead.
Long-term solutions on Milwaukee’s lead laterals is a two to three decade process, so officials are suggesting homeowners and residents get filters as a way to curb the possibility of lead poisoning, which is especially harmful in small children.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports:
Although Milwaukee treats Lake Michigan water to control corrosion of lead from those pipes and prevent contamination of drinking water, this step is not a 100% guarantee of clean water, a drinking water treatment scientist said Wednesday.
“As long as the lead pipe is there, no one should consider the water safe” to drink, said Marc Edwards, a professor of environmental and civil engineering at Virginia Tech. Edwards has led independent investigations of lead contamination of drinking water in Flint, Mich., and Washington, D.C.
Edwards said Wednesday that the costly replacement of all lead laterals in Milwaukee could take 20 or 30 years, or longer. As an interim measure to protect public health, Edwards recommended use of filters at kitchen taps to remove the lead.
Filters certified by testing laboratories to remove 98% or more of lead particles are sold at hardware stores at a cost $30, he said. Use of the filter will prevent lead poisoning until lead water pipes can be replaced throughout the city, Edwards said.
Certified filters proved effective in Flint, according to Edwards.
In a conversation with Milwaukee public works officials, Edwards recommended they develop a public education campaign to emphasize the need to maintain the filters properly and provide an online video that would instruct residents how to properly install them.
For more on this emerging story, visit Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.