Questions about testing: State Senator wants Milwaukeeans tested for lead exposure

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MILWAUKEE -- A state senator is calling for Milwaukee residents to be tested for lead exposure. This comes following a recently published article in The Guardian that casts doubt on the city's water testing procedures.

The report alleged Milwaukee was among more than 30 cities nationwide where water testing practices fell short of EPA guidelines.

St. Sen. Lena Taylor

St. Sen. Lena Taylor

"We have blatantly cheated on our test. They say 'do not run water before you test' and that's what we did," said Senator Lena Taylor (D-Milwaukee).

The EPA recommends not flushing pipes prior to the testing period. Doing so can help lower the lead levels in the system.

The Guardian article alleged Milwaukee testers purposely pre-flushed the pipes before testing the lead content.


The Milwaukee Water Works most recent consumer confidence report showed a median lead level of 10 parts per billion. The highest amount allowed is 15 parts per billion.

David Garman

David Garman

"Ten is what we consider to be an alert level," said David Garman with the UWM School of Freshwater Sciences.

FOX6 News asked Garman if pre-flushing the pipes could have affected the reported lead level.

"If the testing was being done on a pipe which had deteriorated in some way, then the flushing would have influenced the results," Garman said. "If it was done on a pipe which is in good condition and well-coated, then it would not have influence on the results."

But right now, we do not know the specifics of where the testing was done -- or the condition of the pipes involved.


Taylor is calling on the city to get residents tested -- and help point them toward services if they need them.

"What can we do immediately? What can we connect you to and then what can we do to correct the problem?" Taylor said.

CLICK HERE to read the 2015 Consumer Confidence Report on drinking water

FOX6 News reached out to both Mayor Tom Barrett and the Department of Public Works in Milwaukee. We received a statement from the Department of Public Works that says prior to 2016, the EPA was silent about pre-flushing pipes before testing. It also says the department has since stopped that practice, after the EPA issued new guidance on the topic in February. You can read more here:  CLICK HERE .

CLICK HERE for a statement from the EPA in response to the article in The Guardian.

Other related documentation:

Letter to Mayor Tom Barrett from Senator Lena Taylor

EPA memo: Clarification of Recommended Tap Sampling Procedures for Purposes of the Lead and Copper Rule

City of Milwaukee Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention

Milwaukee Water Works: Letter to Milwaukee residents with lead laterals


1 Comment

  • Milwaukee Sucks

    I wouldn’t drink Milwaukee tap water if I were you. Unless you like added chemicals “that kill germs” and lead that is…Milwaukee takes the water from your toilets and serves it right back to you. LMAO

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