United Way, hospital systems donate $75K to buy water filters, available to low-income families

MILWAUKEE -- Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett announced on Thursday afternoon, October 6th a new venture that they say will help keep lead from children in the city.

Mayor's office announces partnership to buy water filters for low-income families

United Way of Greater Milwaukee and Waukesha County, Aurora Health Care, Froedtert & Medical College of Wisconsin,  Children's Hospital of Wisconsin and Ascension Health have agreed to donate $75,000 ($15,000 each) that would be used to purchase water filters that would be available to low-income families in Milwaukee.

"We continue to look at ways that we can minimize the risk of ingestion of lead from water and homes and this is a great step in that direction. Residents with homes with lead service lines who have those children under six, especially those bottle-fed infants are going to be our top priority; pregnant women, breastfeeding women, we're going to make certain that we focus on them," said Milwaukee Health Commissioner, Bevan Baker.

Milwaukee's water mains do not contain lead, but some of the laterals do. Those are the pipes that connect homes to the water main. It's mostly homes built before 1951, that have lead laterals -- and the city adds phosphate to the water supply to coat those pipes and prevent the lead from breaking off and ending up in your drinking water. But when there is a disruption such as construction on the nearby water man, it can cause the lead level to spike for a few weeks in those lead pipes.

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett

The city has halted replaced lead laterals until a better fix can be found. It also hopes the filters can add to the effort to reduce the lead exposure children in the community have. 

"We're trying to do everything we can to make sue that our families and our infants and our children are safe," said Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.

Mayor Barrett says the city is currently negotiating how many filters they'll be able to purchase with those funds. He also says it's open to working with any other businesses that would like to contribute to the effort.