Minneapolis Water Facts
How Water Works got started
The Minneapolis Water Treatment & Distribution Services was established in 1867. It initially came about to help get water to our firefighters. By 1872, this division expanded to include distribution of drinking water.
Since then, our water distribution system has developed from a single pump station, taking water from the Mississippi River at Fifth Avenue South and delivering it to a small distribution system, to the largest water utility in the upper Midwest with approximately a thousand miles of pipe in the Minneapolis system.
The tap water we produce
The sole source of our water supply is the Mississippi River, with an average annual withdrawal of 21 billion gallons. The water we take from the river goes through a cleaning process. Impurities are reduced by a number of processes, including filtration, disinfection and sedimentation. Fluoride is also added to our tap water to help prevent tooth decay. In the end, Minneapolis Water Treatment & Distribution Services produces an average of 57 million gallons per day. That’s enough to fill Lake of the Isles in about four days.
In addition to cleaning the water, Minneapolis is one of the few cities in Minnesota that softens water at a centralized softening plant. Our softening saves customers the expense of buying and maintaining their own home softening system. Our softening plant removes around 65,000 pounds of hardness from our water every day. The material we take out is used to help neutralize their soil on Minnesota and Wisconsin farmlands.
A variety of tests are performed on our water throughout the treatment process. On average, 500 chemical, physical, and bacteriological examinations are done each and every day. That’s 182,500 tests a year! For more specific information about water quality see our Consumer Confidence Report and our Plant Effluent Water Analysis.
Once it’s cleaned and treated, the water we produce is stored in a reservoir. There is enough water kept in the reservoir to satisfy two days of average tap water demand.
People outside of Minneapolis get our tap water too. Our distribution area includes Golden Valley, Crystal and New Hope, Columbia Heights, Hilltop, Bloomington (which uses a mix of our water and well water) and Edina’s Morning Side neighborhood. We also provide water to the Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport. About a half million people drink Minneapolis tap water every day.
Generally, about 40 percent of the water we produce goes toward residential purposes. Around 38 percent is for institutional, commercial and industrial uses, and around 22 percent of the water goes to our seven suburban customers. In Minneapolis, our largest users of water are the University of Minnesota, Metropolitan Airport Commission, and Hennepin County Energy Recovery Center. These customers account for 5 percent of the water sold by the Minneapolis Water Treatment & Distribution Services.
Our water customers (businesses and residences) use an average of 145 gallons of water per day. The average residential customer uses around 60-70 gallons per day. When you factor in the people who come to Minneapolis to work or attend to the University of Minnesota, the average daily use per capita is around 100 gallons of water. These numbers are all lower than the national average for cities of similar size and other metro suburbs.
Minneapolis Water Treatment & Distribution Services has many facilities, including river intakes and pump stations, treatment plants, reservoirs and other facilities, as well as a network of water mains bring our tap water to customers. There are approximately 1,000 miles of water mains in Minneapolis – enough to stretch from here to Denver!
Our construction and maintenance practices help keep our water mains in working order. In addition to our leak inspections and repairs, we clean and line some of our water mains every year. As a result we have one of the lowest average numbers of water main breaks a year among similar systems and cities of comparable size.
The water fund
The major source of revenue for Minneapolis Water Treatment & Distribution Services comes from the water fund, not from taxes. Those dollars can only be used to fund projects related to tap water. That means water funds cannot not be used to pave the streets, provide more police officers, or for any other City service.
The water fund money comes from water sales, which include sales to residential accounts, non-residential accounts and outside sales to suburban customers.
Need more information?
The Minneapolis Water Works provides information regarding general treatment facts and figures upon request and distributes this information to schools, universities, and others as part of their presentations to many organizations. This information can be obtained by calling 612-661-4917.
Last updated Oct. 10, 2013