What is the Water Quality in Wausau, Wisconsin?
Compared to other US cities, Wausau water quality ranks in the middle range for contamination excluding Lead.
Most of their 23 contaminants have cancer-causing attributes.
- Arsenic is at extremely high levels: 109x health guidelines.
- Haloacetic acids (HAA5) are at extremely high levels: 135x health guidelines.
- Haloacetic acids (HAA9) are at extremely high levels: 223x health guidelines.
- HAA5 and HAA9 are byproducts of chlorine treatment, a common method of disinfecting water supplies.
- Radium is at high levels: 13x health guidelines.
Let’s look closer at what’s in Wausau water.
What’s in Wausau water?
Here are the top 6 chemical compounds in your water and what health issues they can potentially cause:
- Arsenic – Potential effect: Cancer
- Chloroform – Potential effect: Cancer
- Haloacetic acids (HAA5) – Potential effect: Cancer
- Haloacetic acids (HAA9) – Potential effect: Cancer
- Radium – Potential effect: Cancer
- Total trihalomethanes – Potential effect: Cancer
These are six of the 23 contaminants analyzed by the Environmental Working Group (ewg.org).
12 of the total contaminants are rated as exceeding EWG Health Guidelines.
Does Wausau have Lead contamination?
Yes, Wausau has lead in its water. The most recent Lead samples collected in 2019 showed concentrations up to 25.0 parts per billion (ppb).
The legal limit for lead is 15 parts per billion. Being well-below this level is a good thing.
- Concentrations between 3.8 ppb and 15 ppb put a formula-fed baby at risk of elevated blood lead levels. Read more about the symptoms of Lead in water.
There is no safe level of lead for humans.
- The good news is that 99.99% of the lead can be filtered out.
See the What Can You Do? section below to learn how to filter out contaminants.
Where does Wausau’s water come from?
Wausau’s water comes from the Eau Claire Flowage – Wisconsin River watershed.
6 of the 8 EPA assessed water sources in the Eau Claire Flowage – Wisconsin River watershed are in Impaired or Unknown condition. These include:
- 2 Impaired sections of the Wisconsin River running through Wausau
- 4 Unknown sections including Lentz Creek, north of the city.
Ideally, a water source would be rated in Good condition.
- Lake Wausau and an Unnamed waterbody are in Good condition.
Whether a water source is in Impaired or Good condition refers to the quality of these uses:
- Drinking Water
- Aquatic Life
- Fish and Shellfish Consumption
Learn more from How’s My Waterway
See below for what you can do to improve Wausau’s water.
Conclusion – What Can You Do?
Information about water quality in Wausau can be surprising.
But there’s no reason to lose hope. There are things you can do in your home as well as things you can do at a community level.
- Use Berkey filters with activated carbon to filter out at least 80% of the contaminants in your drinking water.
- To filter out 20 of the 23 contaminants, consider a Reverse Osmosis water filtration system for your house.
- These are more expensive than pitchers to purchase, but are much more effective.
- They have the benefit of filtering out heavy hitters like:
- Arsenic – health effects in water
- Barium – In low doses, barium ions act as a muscle stimulant, and higher doses affect the nervous system, causing cardiac irregularities, tremors, weakness, anxiety, shortness of breath, and paralysis.
- Bromodichloromethane – health risks in drinking water
- Chloroform – side effects
- Chromium (total)
- Dibromoacetic acid
- Dichloroacetic acid
- Haloacetic acids (HAA5 and HAA9) – chlorination byproducts*
- Hexavalent chromium – health effects
- Monochloroacetic acid
- Total trihalomethanes – byproduct of chlorination*
- Trichloroacetic acid
*Chlorination is an effective method of disinfecting/treating drinking water. You can then use a water filter to reduce the effects of chlorination byproducts to get the safest, cleanest water possible.
In Your Community:
Contact your local government officials and put pressure on them to invest in cleaner waterways and upgraded city water filtration and treatment.
Go to: https://www.ci.wausau.wi.us/ to find contact information for your local officials.