Is your water safe?

Moraine Park Wastewater instructor sitting at blue picnic table and dripping faucet

Hi, I’m Mark Schmidt, water quality instructor here at Moraine Park Technical College. Today marks the first day of a blog regarding water quality.

I have been asked by many people about the safety of consuming water, whether bottled or municipally supplied. Some questions have also come from people that have private wells. The questions certainly make me think as there seems to be some pretty interesting misinformation available.

Private Well Water vs. Municipal Supply Water vs. Bottled

MUNICIPAL: Although municipal supplies are regulated differently than bottled water, many people believe that private well water is the best, purest and safest water available. Each water source has its issues. They are numerous, but the fact that municipal water supplied as drinking water is highly regulated, tested and treated to provide a safe palatable water, should lead one to think that municipally supplied water from their faucet is safe to drink.

This is not always the case.

In 1993 there was an outbreak of cryptosporidium in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Many people were sickened and some died from the related disease. In Flint, Michigan, it is related to water chemistry. The impact in Flint surrounds the children that consumed water from their municipal source, which had high levels of lead.

Occasionally, we hear about boil water notices when other municipal water supplies have been jeopardized. But all of these missteps have hurt public confidence in our municipally supplied water quality.

PRIVATE WELL: Private wells may be contaminated with a number of chemicals and/or impurities, and bacteria that can be pathogenic. These wells are rarely tested to ensure high quality water. Your private well may have great water quality, but have you tested it lately?

BOTTLED: Bottled water, they follow different regulations, and many are nothing more than municipally supplied water that is treated again prior to bottling.

Bigger Issues

When we look at the issue from afar, we see that there have been problems, or even what some may call accidents. Like any accident, all of the outbreaks and water quality problems have been preventable. Professionals that treat water and supply the masses, do not sit at a computer screen watching water flow in and out of a facility. They are involved in making sure that the water is always safe to drink.

This may involve simple maintenance, sometimes more complex, this will involve chemistry, science, mathematics, following procedures, analyzing water and so much more. The only way that the missteps of the past will be resolved is ensuring proper training is available.

Education is the foundation that will enable water quality professionals to know the potential issues and react accordingly.

Throwing politics aside for a moment, if you needed dental work, maybe a bone reset, a disease cured, you would seek a knowledgeable educated professional provider, and in the case of drinking water, you would want a trained and educated professional ensuring the publics health as it relates to water consumption.

Now back to politics. If someone other than a water quality professional is making landmark decisions as it related to water quality, then be careful, as it will probably work as well as getting someone off the street to provide you with dental care, reset a bone, and cure a disease. For more information about water quality and education available, visit:


Written by Mark Schmidt
Mark Schmidt is the Water Quality Technology Instructor at Moraine Park Technical College in Fond du Lac, WI. Mark has 40 years of experience in water and wastewater facility and systems operations, maintenance and management. Prior to teaching, his specialty was surface water treatment plant optimization. He now enjoys teaching the next generation of water quality professionals, and those in the field desiring knowledge and advancement opportunities. Feel free to contact Mark about the program at, or check out the program at