May 23, 2004

Milwaukee Sewage Dumping

Category: Milwaukee Focus

Milwaukee: Over the past few weeks, the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewage District has dumped 1.5 Billion (yes, Billion) gallons of raw sewage into Lake Michigan. I can't even visualize exactly how much that is, but even into a vast lake, it can't possibly be good, and though there are many excuses, there's just no way this could happen without something stupid going on.

As mentioned before on this site, stormwater runoff becomes a huge problem when most of the land in a city is paved or otherwise made impermeable. Exacerbating that problem, Milwaukee's stormwater drainage system mixes with the sewer system, so in the event of a big storm, the system can get overloaded, forcing what is known as an "overflow". I don't want to get too critical of a massive system that I know little about, but it dosn't seem too logical to mix those two systems.

An attempt was made to solve the problem by building a massive tunnel system underground to hold overflow, costing billions of dollars, but I would think that simply separating the systems or encouraging wider use of permeable paving systems, the problem could be aleviated both more efficiently and more cheaply. In their defense, MMSD is clearly aware of the problem and has made many progressive moves. Nonetheless, the problem continues...

Posted by Nick at May 23, 2004 3:24 PM


Remember dumping 13 to 14 billion gallons is going to get Milwakee a possiblw 1 million dollar fine. So what! That fine is probably cheaper to pay than to pay for putting it though the sewage system. Did it save Milwaukee by dumping it than treating it?

Posted by: Anonymous at June 8, 2004 3:16 PM

Yeah, Anonymous up there is right. You can't build much of a sewer system for a million bucks. But they definitely should separate those systems. Combined sewers are really awful.

Posted by: Highway at June 10, 2004 6:22 PM

Up north Lake Michigan was pure and swimmable 20 years ago. Pure. Is anybody doing anything about this? Is there any legislation? If they need to get money together to change it, it better start happening pretty soon or you won't even be able to put your foot in there 20 years from now! There's gotta be some engineering genius out there who has the answer. We can circle the earth in hours but we can't find a way from dumping billions of gallons of sewage, that's ok, right?

Posted by: anonymous at July 21, 2004 7:05 AM


If you think the problem will go soon. Maybe in about 30 years this water will still be passing around where I live right now. Great Lakes, then St-Laurent River. Until when do you think we have to wait for that to be cleaned away by nature?


Drink to that ...

Posted by: John-Pete at July 21, 2004 5:57 PM