City Begins Handing Out Faucet Filters for Lead Pipes in Milwaukee

At Milwaukee's Saint Matthews Church, frustration poured out, as dozens gathered to address the city's lead-pipe dilemma. 

Over 70,000 homes still receive water through lead pipes, a dangerous issue with no cheap fix.

     "This is a very serious public health issue," says Robert Miranda. "The city needs to stop sugar coating it."

Miranda works with the Freshwater for Life Action Coalition, a group devoted to eliminating lead pipes in Milwaukee. 

     "We don't see an urgency coming from the mayors office. We don't see a sense of urgency coming from the common council." 

It comes as Mayor Tom Barrett announces plans to replace lead lateral pipes at 385 daycares across the city. 

Saturday, the city began handing out free faucet filters to those with impacted homes.

Miranda says those filters cost about $35, and are recommended for anyone living in a home built before 1951. 

Dr. Annette Stokes says until a long-term solution is reached, residents with lead pipes should not drink, or cook, with tap water, unless it's filtered. Boiling the water does not eliminate the lead, and could actually increase its toxicity. 

Water groups are calling for the city to replace lead laterals not just at daycares, but at homes throughout the city.

     "That's going to take some time, we're talking about 70,000 homes," says Milwaukee Water Commons Director Brenda Coley. "We have to find out what the priorities are, who should get there's replaced first." 

The City of Milwaukee Health Department sent us the following information:

"Milwaukee drinking water meets all EPA standards for drinking water quality and is in compliance with the Lead and Copper Rule. Since 1997, Milwaukee's drinking water has been safely treated with a compound that reduces the risk of lead dissolving into water from lead pipes. This is a best practice that cities across Wisconsin and the nation utilize. Mayor Barrett has laid out a long-term plan for replacing lead service lines that includes private homes throughout the city. The plan was presented in September with the 2017 budget, and has been discussed at several public hearings since that time." 

Mayor Barrett's office did not return a request for comment.

Is your home at risk? You can check the city map here

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