SPECIAL REPORT: What's in your water? - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

SPECIAL REPORT: What's in your water?


We use water every single day, whether it's showering, cooking or drinking a glass of it. Water quality is becoming an increasing concern for central Wisconsin residents.

"Since I was a kid, we've never, never drank the water here," said Jocelyn Walters who has lived in central Wisconsin her entire life. "I'm not comfortable with it."

Walters has had concerns about the water in her home for years.

"Three years ago we got a letter saying the lead was really high so we kinda upped our filtering and then we heard about the copper, that really scares us I guess," said Walters.

She doesn't take any chances, having a filter put it for any water going into her home. She said she changes that filter regularly.

"When the water comes in through the street it gets filtered there, then we do a pitcher," said Walters. "We're just very, very careful."

Her two kids know not to drink out of the faucet. Even the cat drinks filtered water.

"I'm not going to give it to my children, it doesn't make me feel good," said Walters.

She isn't alone, others throughout the area have experienced metals in their water.

"We've never had an issue with it, now this time an elevated lead count," said homeowner Matt Nelles. "The cutoff is 15 parts per billion and we're at 18."

While his lead count is up, Nelles said he's not worried.

"It doesn't concern me that much," said Nelles. "If it continues to grow we'll address it."

Sam Baron, an expert in water, said any elevated count can be cause for concern.

"You need to pay attention to it because lead has a lot of different health issues," said Baron. "The biggest one, it's a cumulative build up... it builds up slowly in the blood stream, in the liver, circulatory system, brain stem, lead gets into just about every system in the human body. So lead is a major problem when you do have it."

Walters and Nelles said their water generally looks crystal clear. Baron said not to let color dictate whether you think your water is safe.

"Unfortunately mother nature is kind of cruel in that the stuff that smells bad, tastes bad, doesn't look good that's generally the stuff that's okay, it's the stuff you can't see, doesn't smell, the water looks crystal clear," said Baron.

Baron, who owns Maher Water in Stevens Point, tests water for people often. He said the water is safe when it leaves the city's treatment facility. It's not until the water travels through your pipes that problems can pop up.

"Look at your city, how old is it, how old is the infrastructure, but more importantly how old is the house you're in," said Baron.

Since the problems in Flint, Michigan, Baron said more people have wanted their water tested. But problems aren't that common.

"Most of what we're doing is for people's peace of mind, the people that are testing they don't know, but they just want to know," said Baron. "Most of the samples that come through they test perfectly safe."

Newsline 9 put area faucets to the test, heading to different homes and even WAOW to check out their taps. Overall, everything that can impact your health came back at safe levels. But for Walters, some of those numbers are still too high for comfort.

"Even if they're not quite over, they're close enough in some cases that I still think it is concerning," said Walters.

You can find more information about water quality here.

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