Contact(s): Steve Ales, deputy director for DNR's Bureau of Drinking Water and Groundwater, 608-267-7545, Stephen.Ales@wisconsin.gov; Jennifer Sereno, DNR communications, 608-770-8084, Jennifer.Sereno@wisconsin.gov
July 29, 2016 at 12:57:30 pm
MADISON, Wis. - Wisconsin's public drinking water systems continued to provide safe and affordable drinking water in 2015 with more than 96 percent of the systems meeting all health-based standards, according to an annual report on drinking water by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.
Together, the 96 percent of water systems with no samples exceeding health-based standards for regulated contaminants represented a slight improvement over the 95.5 percent performance of 2014, said Steve Ales, deputy director for DNR's Bureau of Drinking Water and Groundwater.
Wisconsin has 11,470 public water systems, defined as providing water for human consumption to at least 15 service connections or regularly serving an average of at least 25 people a day for at least 60 days per year.
Throughout 2015, communities continued their efforts to reinvest in public water system upgrades. In all, 22 communities received more than $35 million in assistance for drinking water system infrastructure improvements, of which $32.9 million was low interest loans. The low interest loans can provide a cost savings of up to 30 percent to communities, enabling them to address challenges more quickly and economically.
"Access to safe, affordable drinking water is fundamental to public health and economic development, and the state of Wisconsin is committed to supporting public water systems in providing safe drinking water," said DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp. "We are pleased to see continued upgrades of community water systems and an ongoing commitment to the stringent monitoring and testing requirements that ensure this high level of performance."
On average, Wisconsin residents pay $5.50 for 1,000 gallons of tap water-mere fractions of a penny per gallon according to the state Public Service Commission. Abundant fresh water resources, strong state and federal regulations and cooperative efforts among public water systems, trade associations, individual operators, county health officials, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, DNR and other organizations contribute to the success in providing safe, affordable drinking water resources in Wisconsin.
In other highlights of the 2015 report:
It is important to note that a violation of a health-based standard does not mean that people who drank the water experienced adverse health effects; it means users were exposed to a contaminant at a level deemed by U.S. EPA to pose an unreasonable risk to health, or that the system failed to treat its water to the extent necessary.
In cases where a system does not meet all health based standards, the system is required to notify the public. If the exceedance could represent an acute risk, the public water system takes appropriate measures to minimize the risk including taking a well offline or finding an alternative remedy.