Public Water Systems
Drinking Water Quality Data is a DNR webpage
with data about Wisconsinís drinking water and groundwater quality.
Consumer Confidence Reports
provide an annual report on public water systems. This includes test
results and violations.
Private Well Water
private drinking water well testing recommendations and
an updated list of labs that test private well water for
(PDF, 31 KB) and
There is a searchable
database on groundwater data including private
wells, public wells, and monitoring wells.
Approved Treatment Devices for
Contaminants - Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional
Direct and indirect pollution sources of Wisconsin surface waters - Wisconsin DNR
Blue Green Algae or Cyanobacteria
Wisconsin's Harmful Algal Blooms program collects information
about human and animal illness and death resulting from exposure to
blue-green algae. Tracking illness information will help the
Wisconsin Division of Public Health measure the problem of
blue-green algae in our lakes and rivers. Learn more.
Beach Water Quality -
An extensive list of beaches along the Great Lakes
and their advisory information.
Pool Licensing and Safety
Public swimming pools include but are not limited to a pool serving
or installed for the state or any political subdivision of the state; a
pool serving or installed at a motel, hotel, tourist rooming house, bed
and breakfast establishment, campground, camp, club, association,
housing development or school, or a religious, charitable or youth
organization; a mobile pool; and a pool at an educational or
Information about public pool licensing:
Safety and Recreational Licensing
For swimming pool safety tips in all seasons of the
year, see the CDC's
Healthy Swimming pages.
Campground Licensing and Safety
Information about the licensing and the regulation of
Safety and Recreational Licensing.
Safety tips for swimming in lakes or rivers:
Swimming: Oceans, Lakes, and Rivers.
Flood Hazards and Recovery
Every year, areas of Wisconsin routinely flood. If you live or work
in an area likely to flood, take some simple steps to protect yourself and
your property. DHS has more information
on the Flood homepage.
Drought conditions can directly affect human health. Lower levels of
water in lakes and streams increase the concentration of pollutants and can
lead to standing water. Droughts can also pose a risk to people who get their
water from a private well. Visit the Drought homepage for more
Boil Water or Emergency Chlorination Notices
Fact Sheet for Private Residences
(PDF, 38 KB) - How to protect your home
during a boil water or emergency notice.
Fact Sheet for Public Facilities
(PDF, 38 KB) - How to protect
customers' health during a boil water or emergency chlorination
Studies show that trace amounts of pharmaceuticals have appeared in
various community water supplies. The current best practice for managing
waste drugs is through high temperature incineration at a licensed
facility. Until a permanent solution is in place to collect unwanted
medications, several temporary collections have been set up across the
state. DHS provides
links and resources to temporary collection places.
Click the '+' image
to see information about the contaminant.
Arsenic is a natural element found in soil and
bedrock throughout Wisconsin. Under certain conditions, arsenic can be
released into groundwater and enter water wells.
Aluminum is a naturally occurring metal that
is found in the earthís crust. Aluminum salts are used as coagulants to
purify municipal water that is drawn from lakes or reservoirs.
Aluminum-contaminated water has no taste or odor. However, very high
aluminum levels can sometimes cause water to have a bluish color.
Aromatic concentrates are purified mixtures of
chemicals found in crude oil. These mixtures are used to make gasoline
and other fuels. They are strong-smelling liquids that range in color
from yellow to black. If spilled, aromatic concentrates evaporate
quickly. However, part of the spill can go into the air, the soil, and
sink down into the groundwater.
Atrazine is a white crystal solid. Farmers
have used it widely as a weed killer on corn fields since the early
1960s. A recent survey of rural Wisconsin wells found widespread
atrazine contamination. In most cases, the amounts detected did not pose
a serious risk to health. However, the Wisconsin Department of
Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection has taken action to reduce atrazine use to prevent any more groundwater contamination.
A common contaminant in wells.
Benzene is a widely used industrial
chemical. It quickly evaporates from water or soil. If benzene leaks
from buried storage tanks or landfills, it can contaminate nearby
drinking water wells. Benzene can move long distances in groundwater.
Cadmium is a metal found naturally in the
earth's crust. The normal intake of cadmium (1-3 micrograms/day) does
not appear to cause health problems. People can be exposed to increased
amounts of cadmium by drinking contaminated water, which is typically
caused by improper disposal of industrial chemicals.
Carbon tetrachloride (Carbon tet) is a
non-flammable colorless liquid with a heavy, sweet odor. Carbon tet may
contaminate groundwater near locations where the chemical was improperly
disposed. Since the compound is heavy, some of the spilled liquid will
sink through soil and enter groundwater.
Chlorine is a poisonous, greenish-yellow gas
described as having a choking odor. It is a very corrosive, hazardous
chemical. Usually combined with other chemicals, it is used to disinfect
water, purify metals, bleach wood pulp and make other chemicals. Low
level exposure can occur when water containing chlorine is used for
drinking or for food preparation.
Cyanide is sometimes found in contaminated
drinking water. People can be exposed when they drink contaminated
water. Cyanide is very poisonous. Cyanide can exist as a gas, liquid or
white crystal powder. Cyanide is used in the electroplating industry, in
metal cleaning operations, and as an industrial bug killer.
1,2-DCA is a thick, colorless liquid which has a
pleasant odor and sweet taste. In the home, 1,2-DCA can be found in some
cleaning solvents, pesticides, glues, varnishes, and strippers. When
1,2-DCA enters the environment, it can seep into the soil or evaporate
into the air. It eventually may reach groundwater and contaminate local
drinking water supplies.
Lead was used in many home plumbing systems and
could be a toxic contaminant in the home.
Lead Arsenate Pesticides
Lead Arsenate Pesticides were used commonly to control agricultural pests in Wisconsin.
The pesticide residues bind tightly to the soil, and some has remained there for decades,
and may pose a health risk to humans when the land changes from agriculture uses.
Common element found in minerals, rocks,
and soil that is naturally found in groundwater but can be harmful at
- Manure Contamination
Manure-related problems are usually
caused when liquid manure is spread during the late winter and early
spring months. During these times, manure cannot be tilled in or
adequately absorbed by the soil.
Molybdenum is a metal that occurs naturally
in the earthís crust and is usually found in very small amounts. It is
an important dietary nutrient in very small quantities, yet too much
molybdenum may cause health problems. In nature it can be found in
poorly drained highly organic soils and as part of some minerals found
in soil and rock. Molybdenum is occasionally found naturally in
A common contaminant in drinking water. It is largely used in agricultural and residential fertilizers.
- Old Dumps and Landfills
Many old dumpsites had no liners to
prevent groundwater contamination. When the dumps were full, they were
typically covered with loose topsoil. Rainwater and precipitation can
seep into the waste and carry chemicals to the groundwater below.
Because some old dumps used wetlands for disposal sites, the wastes were
directly in contact with the groundwater table.
Pesticides used on corn, soybeans, and
other crops can affect water supplies.
- Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs)
PCBs are a group of 209 different
compounds. PCBs are man-made and have no smell. They are yellow, oily
liquids that donít easily burn. There are no natural sources of PCBs.
For most people, eating fish or other seafood caught from polluted water
is the main way in which they are exposed to PCBs.
- Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs)
Most PAHs in the environment are from
incomplete burning of carbon-containing materials like oil, wood,
garbage or coal. Charcoal-broiled foods, especially meats, are a source
of some PAH exposure. Shellfish living in contaminated water may be
another major source of exposure. PAHs may be in groundwater near
disposal sites where construction wastes or ash are buried; people may
be exposed by drinking this water.
A naturally occurring element that is found in
some of Wisconsin's groundwater in low amounts.
A naturally occurring element that is found in some of Wisconsin's
groundwater in low amounts
A naturally occurring element commonly found at
low levels in drinking water supplies
A mineral that occurs naturally in the
environment. Non-radioactive or "stable strontium" is very common in
soil and bedrock and may dissolve entering groundwater.
Sulfates are mineral salts containing
sulfur. Sulfate salts are found in some Wisconsin soils. Mines,
tanneries, steel mills, pulp mills, and textile plants also release
sulfates into the environment. Industrial waste water, household waste
water, runoff from a hazardous waste site or naturally decaying material
can put sulfates into waterways rivers, lakes and streams. Wastes that
contain sulfates seep through soil and contaminate groundwater.
Trichloroethylene (TCE) is a man-made
chemical that does not occur naturally in the environment. TCE can enter
ground water and surface water from industrial discharges or from
improper disposal of industrial wastes at landfills. TCE has been found
in many drinking water supplies in the United States, including
- Volatile Organic Chemicals (VOCs)
VOCs can enter wells from leaking
underground storage tanks, landfills, and other sources including
rainwater and melting snow.
Environmental Public Health Tracking - Wisconsin DHS
tracking website. See statewide data for drinking water
contaminants for the past 10 years.
Wrong with My Water?
- This Wisconsin DNR page provides
- Help you choose the right lab tests to give you a definitive
- Tell you whether your water problem is more likely to be a health
concern or a nuisance problem;
- Help you find a laboratory certified to do testing;
- Help you choose a possible fix; and
- Direct you toward the licensed professionals who can help you.
Wisconsin's Groundwater as a Natural Resource - Wisconsin Groundwater
Topics on Groundwater and Various Drinking Water Issues - Wisconsin DNR
Drinking Water Fact Sheets - Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
A-Z List of Chemical Fact Sheets - Complete list of
DHS chemical fact sheets
Complete List of EH topics - Complete list of DHS Environmental
Back to Environmental Health
A-Z List of Environmental Topics
Health Department Contact Information
July 11, 2014