Water Quality

Annual Drinking Water Quality Report  PDF

Lincoln’s water source is groundwater that is naturally high in quality and comes from wells under the Platte River near Ashland where the ground water is under the direct influence of surface water. Thanks to the natural filtration of ground water, nature has already done much of the work in enhancing the quality of Lincoln’s water. Lincoln’s source water still contains iron and manganese, which pose no health concern but can stain clothing and plumbing fixtures if left untreated. To remove these unwanted elements, water is pumped to the water treatment plants. The water flows through one of two processes before it is distributed to your home or business.


Ozone Generator An ozone generator produces ozone for use in the treatment process.
  1. The oldest process, highly effective since the 1930s, uses aeration, chlorination, detention and filtration. An exact amount of chlorine is added to the water in a large underground reservoir. The water is held in the reservoir for up to two hours. The iron and manganese form particles which are then trapped in the sand and gravel filters. The filters are cleaned every 120 hours using a process called backwashing.
  2. The second process uses ozone technology. Ozone, an extremely strong oxidizer and disinfectant, reacts quickly with iron and manganese to form particles which are then removed in the filtration process.

The next step is vital to protecting the health of our community. Once the water passes through the filters, small but exact amounts of chlorine and ammonia are added. These chemicals combine to form a disinfectant called “chloramine,” which prevents the growth of bacteria in the City’s water distribution pipes. Finally, fluoride is added to help prevent tooth decay.


Lab Samples are collected and tested daily in the lab to ensure quality The USEPA and Nebraska Drinking Water Program establish the safe drinking water regulations that limit the amount of contaminants allowed in drinking water. As the regulations require, Lincoln Water System routinely tests your water for numerous contaminants. The test results in the annual Drinking Water Quality Report PDF show the concentrations of detected substances in comparison to the regulatory limits. The state requires monitoring of certain contaminants less than once per year because the concentrations of these contaminants do not change frequently. Therefore, some of this data may be older than one year.

The presence of contaminants does not necessarily indicate a health risk. More information about contaminants and potential health effects can be obtained from USEPA’s website at epa.gov, by calling the USEPA hotline at 800-426-4791 or by calling the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department at 402-441-8000.

How Pure Is Our Drinking Water?

As water travels over the surface of the land or through the ground, it dissolves naturally occurring minerals and can pick up substances resulting from the presence of animal or human activities. Factors that can impact the purity of our water include microbial contaminants, organic or inorganic contaminants, and even pesticides, herbicides and radioactive contaminants. To ensure that tap water is safe, USEPA Safe Drinking Water standards limit the amount of contaminants in the water supplied to customers. Lincoln’s drinking water continues to meet all of these standards. Lincoln’s water does contain small amounts of atrazine, trihalomethanes and arsenic but these levels remain below USEPA Safe Drinking Water standards.

Please see the Drinking Water Quality Report PDF for details about the contaminants tested for and the levels detected.

Lead And Copper

Lincoln’s drinking water does not contain detectable levels of lead and copper in its source water or after treatment. However, the presence of lead and copper used in plumbing systems can introduce detectable levels of these contaminants into the drinking water at individual homes or businesses. Water testing conducted by Lincoln Water System has found detectable levels of lead and copper in homes built before 1988 as these homes are more likely to have pipes, fixtures and solder that contain lead, although the levels remain below USEPA action levels. In Nebraska, plumbing materials containing high concentrations of lead were banned in 1987. Homes built before 1950 may have a portion of the water service actually constructed using lead pipes and these homes may have higher levels of lead in their drinking water. To learn more about the materials that may be present in your home’s water service, please contact the Lincoln Water System at 402-441-7571.

Safe drinking water properties vary across the country depending on the water source. Lincoln’s drinking water is non-corrosive and does not cause large amounts of lead and copper from home and business plumbing systems to be dissolved into the water. As a result, Lincoln Water System remains in compliance with USEPA requirements for lead and copper.

Lead and copper sampling is performed by Lincoln Water System every three years as required by the USEPA Lead and Copper Rule (LCR). The collective test results for the fifty-seven (57) samples collected in 2016 were below the USEPA action level of 15 parts per billion lead and 1,300 parts per billion copper. The statistical analysis of the test results continues to show Lincoln’s drinking water remains in compliance with USEPA requirements for lead and copper. In 2016, only one sample collected from a private water service containing lead pipes tested above the action level for lead, which shows that lead containing plumping materials can increase exposure to lead from drinking water inside individual homes.

If present, elevated levels of lead and copper can cause serious health problems, especially for infants, young children and pregnant women. Lead and copper in drinking water is primarily from materials and components associated with service lines and home plumbing. Other sources of lead exposure can be lead based paint and lead contaminated dust as reported by the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Lincoln Water System is responsible for providing high quality drinking water, but cannot control the variety of materials used in household and business plumbing components. USEPA recommends when your water has been sitting for several hours, you can minimize the potential for lead exposure by flushing your cold water tap for 30 seconds to 2 minutes before using the cold water for drinking or cooking. Because private plumbing system construction varies, Lincoln Water System recommends flushing for at least 5 minutes in homes constructed prior to 1950. Consider filling a water pitcher for drinking water to avoid repeated flushing. If you are concerned about lead in your water, you may wish to have your water tested. Information on lead in drinking water, testing methods, and steps you can take to minimize exposure is available from the EPA Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 1-800-426-4791; the EPA website www.epa.gov/safewater/lead; the DHHS/Division of Public Health/Office of Drinking Water at 402-471-2541; or you may call the Lincoln Lancaster County Health Department at 402-441-8000 with any health-related questions.

Special Health Requirements

While the presence of chloramines in our water is not a cause for concern among the general public, home dialysis patients, immuno-compromised individuals and aquarium owners must take special precautions before the water can be used.

Water used for kidney dialysis equipment may require further treatment. Please contact your doctor or dialysis technician to ensure that your home equipment is adequate and proper tests are being made every time it is used.

Some people may be more vulnerable to contaminants in drinking water than the general population. This includes immuno-compromised persons such as those with cancer undergoing chemotherapy, those who have undergone organ transplants, people with HIV/AIDS or other immune systems disorders, some elderly people and infants. These people should seek advice about drinking water from their health care providers. USEPA/CDC guidelines on how to lessen the risk of infection by Cryptosporidium and other microbial contaminants are available from the Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 800-426-4791.

Related Water Quality Links