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Drinking Water Safety: Overview & Links

Manitowoc Public Utilities is paying close attention to what unfolded in Flint, MI and our thoughts are with all those who are struggling without access to safe water in their homes. At MPU our focus is to protect the families we serve and our employees are committed to protecting public health through safe and reliable water.

Lead is not found in Manitowoc’s source water (Lake Michigan) or the treatment plant.  Lead comes from the water service lines running between the water main in the street and the home, and from plumbing inside the home.  When water stands for several hours or more in fixtures or pipes that contain lead, the lead may leach into the water.  It is possible that a physical disturbance of the piping may release lead into the water.

The kind of incident that happened in Flint, MI is unlikely to happen in the Manitowoc water system. Since the mid-1990’s, Manitowoc Public Utilities has treated its water with ortho-phosphate to reduce the risk of lead leaching from plumbing materials into water. This compound forms a protective coating inside pipes and is considered to be the best practice for the control of lead in drinking water. However, some homes are more at risk for lead in drinking water due to characteristics of the plumbing at the individual residence. As required by the EPA, MPU conducts lead and copper sampling monitoring at several different locations in the City which provide a representative sample of our system. If the lead samples exceed the EPA lead action level, MPU is required to advise all water customers of the various ways you can use to reduce your risk to lead in your drinking water. Reports for the lead and copper levels can be found on the WDNR website. You can be assured that MPU is committed to meeting the requirements of the EPA Lead and Copper Rule.

Which homes are most at risk of having lead in drinking water?

  • Homes with lead household plumbing.  A licensed plumber can determine if your household plumbing may be made of lead.  Lead pipes are dull gray in color and are soft enough to be easily scratched with a house key.
  • Homes with copper pipe and lead solder installed between 1982 and 1987.  Lead-based solder was banned for use after this time.
  • Homes with faucets or fittings of brass which contain some lead.  Since January 1, 2014, only lead-free fixtures and fittings are allowed to be installed or used to repair drinking water plumbing.  Plumbing and fixtures installed before these dates or purchased from sources outside of the United States may contain lead.
  • Homes where the service line connecting the water main in the street to the building is made of lead.  Approximately 6,500 water services on the properties of the 15,000 water services in the Manitowoc Water System constructed before 1947 are known to have lead service lines. 

For more tips and information on drinking water safety and lead, please visit the following websites:

If you have questions about lead testing or the health effects related to lead in drinking water, contact the Manitowoc County Health Department at (920) 683-4155.

 Homeowner’s Guide to Lead Water Services