“Amazingly effective:” City leaders suggest residents purchase water filters amid lead concerns

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MILWAUKEE -- Milwaukee's mayor is strongly suggesting city residents in about 70,000 homes should start using a water filter. It's one of the steps to protect against possible lead contamination in older homes. Those comments have caused a bit of a rush to local hardware stores.

Tom Barrett

Tom Barrett

It's not city's water supply or the water mains that are the problem -- it's the laterals -- the pipes that come from the water mains to the homes themselves that may contain lead.

"This is not an alarmist call," said Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.

Mayor Barrett said in the case of 70,000 homes in Milwaukee, lead could be an issue.water

"What we said in February, and what we have said repeatedly since then -- but I think there is a value in repeating it over and over again," said Barrett.

What's relatively new: the mayor's suggestion that homeowners living in homes built before 1951 buy water filters.

water filter

water filter

"The news for me was how effective he thought the filters were and that's why I voiced it. I thought, 'here's an expert who says these filters are amazingly effective.' I'm not going to keep that revelation a secret," said Barrett.

Barrett met that expert on a panel about water supply and safety.

"There's no cause for alarm. Milwaukee is not another Flint, but people are realizing the existing lead is not protectant of public health. Especially if you have a lead pipe or infants eating formula. We have to do a whole lot better," said Virginia Tech Professor Marc Edwards.water-filter2

Edwards said he's impressed with how Milwaukee has been handling this issue thus far, and now, some seem to be following up on his advice on the filters. One hardware store on Downer sold out in a day. Another on Prospect had a few left.

Health experts say what you need to look for is the "NSF" standard 53 certification on the box -- that lets you know it will remove lead.NSF certification

"If it were my family living in that house, I'd recommend they'd use bottled water for cooking or drinking or the lead-certified filters that go on the end of your faucet," said Edwards.

There is a long-term plan in the works to potentially replace all impacted laterals -- but it is a huge undertaking. First priority will be child care centers which could be fixed using federal money.


  • Aimee & James

    Most water filters do not remove lead. The most commonly used pitcher filters do not. Only some filters that attach to the faucet remove most lead, but then those do not remove mercury and a couple other things from the water that the pitcher filter does.

    Eat a healthy diet, especially one high in iron and calcium. This will prevent your body from absorbing the lead.

  • Susan Maxwell

    The City should pay for the water filters. Most of the people who live in these old homes live there because they are low income. Why should most of the City get their water for free; while these people have to buy expensive water filters. I stopped using a water filter because it was so expensive.

    • Opinion8d

      Honestly!?!?! You’re not asking the government to pay for it -you’re asking your neighbor or someone else not even in your city to pay for it. The ‘Govt’ doesn’t have money -that’s taxpayer’s money! Should you pay to fix my Radon issue because the govt decided that these level may be ‘unsafe’?? Before getting all excited and looking for ‘govt’ to fix your problems, take some responsibility for your own health and start with a simple water test -you may not even have a problem. Odds are you are exposing yourself to worse things in your everyday life……

  • Fmke

    Honestly screw the city of Milwaukee. This is the worst run corrupt city in the nation. These water filters are not going to stop all the heavy metals and fluoride you dump and to the water.

  • killdahoodrats

    I’m guessing the taxpayers will be footing the bill for the inner city to get their water filters just like we do for their free smoke detectors? God forbid we don’t give them those for free. It would be considered racist if we dont.

    • Opinion8d

      I thought the exact same thing……just see SUSAN MAXWELL’s comment above…. Nothing like an opportunity to get some more taxpayer funds for some ‘community program for the disadvantaged’….

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