Contact(s): Steve Elmore, bureau director, DNR Bureau of Drinking Water and Groundwater, 608-264-9246; Adam DeWeese, section chief, DNR Public Water Supply Section, 608-264-9229MADISON - According to the Department of Natural Resources 2016 Annual Drinking Water report [PDF], more than 99 percent of the state's public water systems provided water that met the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Maximum Contaminant Level standards.
"DNR could not successfully manage the state's drinking water resources without its partners," said Steve Elmore, bureau director for DNR's Bureau of Drinking Water and Groundwater. "With vigilant monitoring and creative approaches to resolving compliance challenges, we are able to manage a sustainable supply of safe drinking water from public water systems."
Wisconsin leads the nation with the more than 11,400 public water systems in the state, the vast majority relying on groundwater sources. Surface water from Wisconsin lakes provides drinking water to some of the state's largest communities, including Milwaukee and Green Bay.
"The excellent compliance record we see in Wisconsin reflects the hard work that is being done by public water system operators, DNR staff and our partners around the state," said Adam DeWeese, DNR section chief of the Public Water Supply Section.
One major change for public water systems occurred on April 1, 2016 when the federal drinking water regulations changed. DNR and the state's public water systems worked hard to implement the new requirements of the Revised Total Coliform Rule. The rule emphasizes finding sources of microbial contamination and fixing the problems that allowed them to enter drinking water supplies.
Another challenge facing Wisconsin's drinking water supplies is replacement of lead service lines. During 2016, DNR created an innovative, first-of-its kind program to fund replacement of both the public and private parts of lead service lines. The Private Lead Service Line Replacement Funding Program made $14.5 million available to disadvantaged communities in 2016, and 38 communities applied for funding.
To help public water systems meet the challenge of aging infrastructure, DNR's Safe Drinking Water Loan Program awarded $23.5 million in financial assistance to 14 communities in Wisconsin during 2016. The funding, both loans and principal forgiveness, allows communities to make needed infrastructure improvements to their drinking water systems. Since the Safe Drinking Water Loan Program began in 1998, 295 projects in Wisconsin have received more than $579 million in financial assistance for drinking water infrastructure improvements.
The 2016 Annual Drinking Water Report is available to the public. To learn more, visit DNR's web site at dnr.wi.gov and search "drinking water," or contact the Bureau of Drinking Water and Groundwater DG/5, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, PO Box 7921, Madison WI 53707, 608-266-1054.