Among the most frequent questions we receive pertain to the safety of a water supply.  It’s a loaded question.

It’s easier to answer two different questions:

Q: Is my water free of bacteria, viruses, and cysts?

A: Pretty much yes.

Q: Is my water free of carcinogens and other problems?

A: No.

What’s In Waukesha Water

There is a great non-profit that compiles this data.  It’s Environmental Work Group and their database is impressive.

For the Waukesha Water Utility, the full report is here.

WaukeshaNational Average
Exceeds Health Guidelines184
Pollutants Found358

Contaminants In Waukesha Drinking Water

The contaminants in Waukesha Drinking Water break into three broad groups.

Problem Group #1: Radium and Radioactive Material


  • Combined Radium (-226 & -228)
  • Radium-228
  • Radium-226
  • Alpha particle activity
  • Gross beta particle activity
  • Thallium
  • Combined Uranium
Solution:  Radium has received a lot of the press coverage for Waukesha’s water diversion.  Eight of the 18 water contaminants are radioactive.  Yes, that sounds bad.

The solution is pretty easy.  A functioning water softener actually removes things like radium before calcium.

Let me repeat that: If you have a functioning water softener, you do not have a radium problem.

Problem Group #2:  Disinfection Byproducts


  • Total haloacetic acids (HAAs)
  • Monochloroacetic acid
  • Bromodichloromethane
  • Dibromochloromethane
  • Bromoform
  • Dichloroacetic acid
  • Dichloromethane (methylene chloride)

Seven more of our 18 contaminants are actually there on purpose.  Cities chlorinate water to reduce contamination during transportation.  As chlorine contacts organic matter, the reaction creates disinfection byproducts (DBP’s).

While most DBP’s are known carcinogens, it’s kind of central to our water safety policy.  In general, the slow risk of carcinogens is better than the fast risk of e coli.

Significant to total elimination of these problems is possible.  Carbon and/or reverse osmosis will reduce these to non-detectable amounts.

Problem Group #3:  The Leftovers


  • Radon
  • Arsenic
  • Lead
We’re down to 3 of the 18 original contaminants.

The whole-house carbon dechlorinator recommend to remove those DBP’s from above will adsorb radon.

Arsenic is best treated with reverse osmosis.  Lead removal will come via either high-grade carbon filters or reverse osmosis.

How Should I Condition My Waukesha Water?

Most municipal water sources should be treated in a similar fashion.

Step 1: Dechlorination

Step 2: Softening

Step 3: Drinking Water Treatment