Water Supply, Conditioning & Distribution

Drinking Water Supply​

BWL draws 100 percent of its water from wells which pump almost entirely from a layer of water-bearing sandstone 100 to 500 feet below the surface – the Saginaw Aquifer. The Saginaw Formation is shielded in most places from direct contact with the surface by layers of clay and shale, so contaminants do not easily get into the water at that level.

The 124 wells that make up the BWL system pump an average of approximately 19.2 million gallons per day (MGD) to either of two water conditioning plants. That's a lot of water! However, long-term measurements of the aquifer show that levels have not gone down overall and that the supply will be adequate for many years to come.

Water Conditioning


The BWL’s raw water supply is of great quality and only needs minor conditioning before distributing to our customers. The water received at the plant is softened, disinfected, and filtered. The raw well water has an average of 450 parts per million (ppm) hardness. The BWL uses a lime-soda ash process which removes excess calcium and magnesium, leaving an average of 97 ppm hardness in the finished water.


One of the key factors in the maintenance of good water quality lies in the establishment of a disinfectant residual. The BWL relies on the use of a type of chlorine called chloramine. Chloramine, which is a compound made up of chlorine and ammonia, has a number of advantages over "free chlorine."

  1. First, it lasts longer. As water travels through mains, it loses its residual much more slowly than it would with free chlorine. That means that less must be applied at the water conditioning plant to achieve a residual near the end of the system.
  2. Second, it imparts very little odor or taste. We are all familiar with the "swimming pool" odor of highly chlorinated water that detracts from its appeal. People seldom notice any odor from chloraminated water.
  3. Third, it results in lower disinfection by-products. Regulated compounds like trihalomethanes and haloacetic acids are reduced by up to 90 percent compared to waters using free chlorine.


The final step is filtration. The BWL uses sand filters for final clarification of our water, which ensure quality and great taste.

Additional Processes

Corrosion Inhibitor

Reducing the water's corrosiveness is important to keeping lead out of drinking water. In December 2016, the BWL replaced its last known active lead service line, but the BWL does not control the plumbing in the customer’s home or business. The BWL uses a phosphate compound to coat water pipes and prevent leaching of lead and copper into drinking water, which has shown past success in reducing lead levels. The level of corrosion control leaving our Water Conditioning Plants is tested every 4 hours and 30 minutes to confirm that proper levels of the additive are present. Also, quarterly sampling results from the distribution system are used to confirm that the proper additive levels are present throughout the BWL's service territory following treatment.


The raw water coming into our two water conditioning plants has a naturally occurring level of fluoride at approximately 0.35 ppm. The BWL adds fluoride to the water to bring it to the optimal level of 0.7 ppm recommended by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Public Health Service and approved by the EPA.

Water Distribution

After conditioning, the water is then pumped from one of the two Water Conditioning Plants over 800 miles of underground mains under pressure to our customers. The maintenance of that pressure ensures that when leaks occur, the leakage is of conditioned water out of the main, not of dirty water into the main. The BWL monitors water quality throughout the year at representative sites across the distribution system.

By conditioning the water, the BWL is able to stabilize the water brought to your tap. In maintaining consistency in the conditioned water, we offer you the ability to tailor the water to your use. The BWL Typical Analysis of Conditioned Water may give you an idea of what ranges you might expect for a variety of chemical measurements.

Additional Water Resources

Water Association Involvement

The Lansing Board of Water & Light (BWL) is proud to be affiliated with many different groups involved in drinking water and protecting the aquifer that supplies that water. We’d like to encourage members of our community to learn more about these groups. BWL drives the efforts in Lansing for being stewards of the aquifer and protecting drinking water, but it can’t be done by us alone. It involves collaboration with other governments, other industries and the public.

It is the Lansing Wellhead Protection team’s mission to promote the stewardship of local groundwater resources. The BWL has been a member of the Lansing Wellhead Protection Program (LWHPP) since June 27, 2000, following the source water protection addition into the Michigan Safe Drinking Water Act in 1996. BWL drinking water comes 100% from groundwater (wells) from an aquifer called the Saginaw Formation. BWL is actively involved in the LWHPP to protect this great resource.

While Lansing’s drinking water source is largely protected from contamination or direct contact with surface water by layers of clay and shale, there are susceptible areas where contaminants could get through. Actions taken on the surface can impact the groundwater we drink, and it is everyone’s responsibility to help keep our groundwater clean and safe. Follow us to learn more about the water you drink in the Lansing area and how you can protect it.


“The Groundwater Management Board (GMB) provides a forum for the coordination of groundwater matters in the tri-county region, and reviews and comments on land use and/or water development projects that may have a potential impact on groundwater management.” The BWL has been a member of the GMB since its initiation in 1982. “Additionally, GMB is composed of representatives from Michigan State University and governmental units from Clinton, Eaton and Ingham counties, and was designated by the State of Michigan as the local Large Water Users Group. Should there be a water use dispute, the GMB acts as the organizing body for discussion and mediation.

The Groundwater Technical Advisory Council (GTAC) is an advisory council of the Groundwater Management Board. It is comprised of groundwater specialists from local government, local health departments, state agencies and other organizations that play a direct role in groundwater protection. The GTAC advises the GMB on technical matters related to groundwater management.

Visit Groundwater Management Board (GMB) to learn more or find out how you can provide comments. Meetings are open to the public, dates and times are available on the website.”

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Michigan AWWA logo

"This AWWA section is a community of water professionals dedicated to treating, delivering, and protecting clean, safe water for Michigan communities. Our mission is improving lives through the effective management of water, Michigan's most vital resource”.

BWL has many employees active in MI-AWWA from attendees at conferences, volunteers, instructors, presenters, Board of Trustees and the Chair. This kind of involvement increases our networking opportunities and expands our resources in times of need for consultation or materials. Also, this involvement demonstrates the commitment of the BWL to stay current on emerging contaminants and best practices for maintaining clean and safe drinking water.

Visit MI-AWWA to learn more or find out how you too can get involved.

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“AWWA at the national and international level was formed to “promote public health, safety, and welfare through the improvement of the quality and quantity of water.”  The BWL is involved at the national level to stay abreast of water trends, issues or developing treatments that may be happening outside Michigan.” Check out the AWWA here.


“The Water Research Foundation (WRF) is the leading research organization advancing the science of all water to meet the evolving needs of its subscribers and the water sector. WRF is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, educational organization that funds, manages, and publishes research on the technology, operation, and management of drinking water, wastewater, reuse, and stormwater systems—all in pursuit of ensuring water quality and improving water services to the public.

WRF was formed in 2018 through the integration of three highly respected research collaboratives: WateReuse Research Foundation, Water Environment Research Foundation and Water Research Foundation. Separately, these organizations focused on research to support varied segments of the water sector—water reuse, wastewater and stormwater, and drinking water, respectively. Now a One Water organization, WRF delivers the research and innovation programming the sector needs to address the most pressing water issues holistically”.

“The Water Research Foundation” https://www.waterrf.org/, 2023


In 2018, the Michigan Safe Drinking Water Act, revised the Lead and Copper Rule (LCR), requiring water supplies serving a population of 50,000 or more to create a water system advisory council. Pursuant to this requirement, in April 2019, the BWL brought community members together to establish an advisory council. The council’s sole function is to advise the BWL on matters relating to protection against lead exposure in drinking water and promoting public awareness.


The responsibilities of the council shall include, but not be limited to, the following:

  • Develop plans for continuing public awareness about lead in drinking water, even when the action level is not exceeded.
  • Review public awareness campaign materials provided by the statewide drinking water advisory council to ensure the needs and interests of the community, considering the economic and cultural diversity of its residents, are addressed.
  • Advise and consult with the BWL on the development of appropriate plans for remediation and public education to be implemented if a lead action level is exceeded.
  • Advise and consult with the BWL on the efforts to replace private lead services lines at locations where the owner declined service line replacement.
  • Assist in promoting transparency of all data and documents related to lead in drinking water within the BWL service area.
  • Collaborate with local community groups to ensure that residents have the opportunity to be involved in efforts to educate the community about lead in drinking water.
  • A water system advisory council may independently seek advice, direction and assistance from the department or the statewide advisory council.
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