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What private well owners need to know

Nearly 1 million households in Wisconsin drink water from private wells. To make sure your well water is safe, make sure your well has been properly located, constructed, installed and maintained, including annual testing.

Read more

Drinking water and groundwater Current issues

Safe, clean drinking water is what we expect when we turn on our faucets. The Wisconsin Bureau of Drinking Water and Groundwater manages activities that affect the safety, quality and availability of drinking water to protect public health and our water resources.

Boy drinking water in fountain

Report: 96 percent of public water systems met health standards for drinking water

The vast majority of Wisconsin’s public water systems served drinking water that had no violations of health–based standards in 2014, according to a report released July 1, 2015.

» Read the full report [PDF]

Chromium–6 in Wisconsin drinking water

Learn more about chromium, a chemical element that has been found in some Wisconsin drinking water and is the topic of federal review and discussion over whether a maximum level needs to be set to protect public health.

Public water system hold time notice

The Department of Natural Resources has been informed that the Environmental Protection Agency will no longer accept drinking water sample results where the holding time exceeds 30 hours for total coliform/E. coli. The samples are collected for compliance with the Safe Drinking Water Act (chapter 809, Wis. Adm. Code). This means that analyzing laboratories will need to invalidate samples (not analyze them) when the time from collection to analysis time is greater than 30 hours. Therefore, the water supplier will have to resample. We are asking the laboratories to start doing this on 10/01/2012.

» View the complete hold time notice [PDF]

Oil spill in Washington County triggers drinking water advisory

Residents in parts of Washington County have been advised to drink only bottled water or water from a known safe source after 55,000 gallons of gasoline spilled from a petroleum product pipeline on July 17, 2012.

» Learn more about the advisory and the cleanup on DNR’s Town of Jackson pipeline spill (Washington County).

Viruses found in untreated Wisconsin drinking water

A recent Wisconsin study shows that viruses can be found in drinking water in communities that use groundwater and do not disinfect it before supplying it to consumers.

Virus contamination from operation and maintenance events in small drinking water distribution systems, Journal of Water and Health, December 2011

The vast majority of Wisconsin’s municipal water systems currently disinfect the water they deliver to consumers, killing viruses and bacteria that can unexpectedly occur in groundwater.

Learn if your municipal water system disinfects its water

DNR recommends that all municipal water systems supplied by groundwater wells continuously disinfect the water they supply to consumers. Not all do. Here’s how you can learn if your municipal water supplier disinfects.

  1. Check this list, based on DNR records as of October 29, 2015, to see if the system disinfects its water:
    Municipal water disinfection list [PDF]
  2. Contact your water system directly.
  3. From the DNR Drinking Water System page, type in your water system’s name, click on "find," then on the link generated for your system and scroll down to "treatment processes." If there is no notation of disinfection under the "objective" heading, the system does not disinfect.

People with health questions related to viruses in drinking water should consult with their personal physician or the State Department of Health at 608–266–1120.

City of Waukesha Diversion Application

The DNR has determined that the City of Waukesha’s application for a diversion of Great Lakes water is complete. The completeness determination begins the review of the application by the DNR. The DNR will schedule informational meetings/public hearing for late July to introduce the proposal, the decision process, decision criteria, environmental impact statement process and take public comments.

Waukesha Diversion Application

Fluoride in Wisconsin drinking water

Learn more about fluoride in Wisconsin drinking water. The state does not require public water supplies to add fluoride to its drinking water to protect dental health, but the state Department of Health recommends communities do so and sets the recommended levels. The DNR is responsible for approving the installation of equipment public water suppliers use to add fluoride, and assuring the systems’ monitor their fluoride levels and review those results, among other technical issues.

Assure the safety of your drinking water after a flood

Private well owners should suspect their drinking water is contaminated by floodwaters if the well casing becomes inundated; if there’s a change in taste, color or sediment in your water; or if your well does not have a deep casing and you are near areas that have been flooded. Wells located in pits and basements are especially susceptible to contamination. If you suspect your well has been contaminated by flooding, read more...

Properly fill and seal unused wells

The water that private well owners drink will be safer and groundwater will be better protected under new provisions effective this month for privately owned wells. Starting June 1, only licensed well drillers or pump installers or their employees may fill and seal unused wells. A second provision effective June 1 requires that if a drinking water well inspection is performed for a real estate transfer, it must be done by a licensed well driller or pump installer. These new requirements will help protect the health of private well owners’ families and their neighbors and keep Wisconsin’s groundwater clean. Learn more about unused wells and real estate transfers.

Web–based data entry form

The electronic reporting of public drinking water results for entering Safe Drinking Water Act samples is now available! Read more about Electronic Reporting.

Safe Drinking Water Hotline


Last revised: Monday January 04 2016