Pay Your Bill

News Archive

Water in Lake Mills: Is It Safe?

Water. It is something that we all need, we drink water
everyday, we use water everyday, water has shaped our way of
life, and it will continue to shape the future, but what happens
when that water becomes dangerous or toxic, what happens
when we can’t use water because if we do, we would become
sick? The city of Lake Mills is located 28.2 miles from Madison,
the state capitol of Wisconsin. The city has a population of
approximately 5,708 people, and was established in 1836. After
seeing the crisis in Flint take place, many citizens living in the city
of Lake Mills grew concerned about the safety of their drinking
water because, according to the article, “Lead In Drinking Water
Is Stubborn Problem For Dozens of Places Like Lake Mills,” from
the Wisconsin State Journal , water samples in Lake Mills
contained 10 times more lead than the federal limit. “I feel
concerned. I am cautious about where I drink water,” stated Lori Nelson, a resident of Lake Mills.

We all remember the disaster in Flint, Michigan starting in
the late summer of 2014, running all the way up to the middle of
January in 2016. We remember the children becoming sick from
lead poisoning that came from the faucet in their own homes, and
we remember the family's shutting off their water to prevent further
tragedy. This kind of event may seem too tragic to happen in the
small city of Lake Mills, but what if it’s not? What if a crisis like the
one in Flint is right around the corner? It is a well known fact that
consuming lead can cause numerous illnesses such as slowed
growth, irreversible brain damage, and even death, so, why does
some of the water being pumped into homes in Lake MIlls contain
lead? “The issue is not with the Lake Mills water supply (i.e., water
being provided by Lake Mills Light & Water), the issue is with the
fact that in older homes in the city water goes through lead pipes,
and, as such, there is a potential for lead to leach into the water,”
replied Paul Hermanson, the Director of the Department of Public
Works in the City of Lake MIlls.

In Lake Mills, the water is distributed through large pipes
that run underneath the streets in the city called the main line.
From there, water flows from the main line into the service
extension, which are smaller pipes that carry water to a shut off
valve located on the property. Lastly, the water travels from the
shutoff valve into the home through service laterals, which are
even smaller pipes. The problem in Lake Mills, is that the service
laterals which are owned by the homeowner, may be made out of
lead, or were put together by solder made out of lead (a material
used to bond pieces of pipe together). As the water sits in the
service laterals it can become contaminated with lead as it makes contact with the pipe or the lead solder.

In order to help insure the safety of citizens, the city is
adding specific chemicals to the water that will put a thin coating
around the inside of the service laterals that will keep the water
from coming into direct contact with the pipe. The city also has an
employee that goes house to house checking to see if residents’
service laterals are made out of lead, and the city is providing
numerous educational resources to residents on water safety. In
addition, the city checks the water supply daily, the city checks
lead levels in 40 different homes across the city two times every
year, and the city strictly follows DNR guidelines. The city has also
received a $300,000 grant, that will be used to help homeowners
who want to replace their lead service laterals. “Our hope is that
the $300,000 grant will encourage homeowners to replace their
portion of the water line. The grant money will be provided to
homeowners to offset the cost of replacing lead service lines with
copper. Each eligible homeowner will be reimbursed for 75% of
the cost up to a maximum of $3,750,” remarked Mr. Hermanson.
Since 2009, the city has replaced around 25 to 30 service
extensions that contained lead, and two to three residents have
replaced their service laterals that have contained lead. So, what’s
the solution? “To people living in older homes in the city I say
contact me and we can check to see if your service lateral is lead
If it is, we’ll provide educational materials and offer an opportunity
to get grant funds to help replace the lead service laterals,”
suggests Paul Hermanson.