Federal EPA guidelines issued in 2000 set new standards that lowered the amount of allowable radium in drinking water. Radium is a naturally occurring solid that is found in the earth’s crust, and is known to be harmful to people when ingested in significant amounts.
Radon, on the other hand, is a gas that radium emits as it decays. Because it can enter the body more easily, radon is considered more dangerous than radium. Neither is good, but it is radium that has undermined the deep aquifer as water levels have fallen.
To be clear, Waukesha’s current drinking water is safe, and the Utility uses available technologies to reduce radium levels. However, such treatment is only a short term fix, as it does not address the underlying issue of long term depletion.