Wednesday, June 22, 2011

MMSD, Sewage, and Illegal Dumping

What does heavy rainfall in the Milwaukee area mean?

It means the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District will be dumping sewage into rivers and Lake Michigan. Lots of it.

From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

Two waves of heavy rains and high winds downed trees and power lines and flooded roadways throughout the Milwaukee area Tuesday afternoon and evening.

...Tuesday's second wave of rain hit about 8 p.m. Within 20 minutes 3-4 inches had accumulated on the roadway of the Zoo Interchange, the National Weather Service said. In Milwaukee Sewer grates were reported overflowing at S. 43rd St. and W. Lincoln Ave. Street flooding lifted manhole covers at N. Port Washington Road at Capitol Drive. There also were estimates of rainwater two-feet deep on roads two miles southeast of Miller Park, the weather service said.

...Flooding also was reported at Mayfair and Blue Mound roads in Wauwatosa and at Lily and Burleigh roads in Brookfield.

The Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District started combined sanitary and storm sewer overflows into local rivers and Lake Michigan in central Milwaukee and eastern Shorewood around 8:30 p.m.

Tuesday was a second day of heavy rain and it overwhelmed regional sewers and started filling the district's deep tunnel. It was the first sewer overflow to waterways reported by the district this year.

...MMSD Executive Director Kevin Shafer said he ordered closing of gates connecting combined sewers to the deep tunnel during a Tuesday evening downpour to prevent sewage backups into basements and to reserve space in the tunnel for flows from the majority of the district served by separated sanitary sewers. Overflows from combined sewers likely started as gates closed.

The main deep tunnel already was more than half full from combined sewer flows when Shafer ordered the combined sewer overflows. Another reason for the emergency measure is to prevent overflows from separate sewers. The district's state permits allows up to 6 combined sewer overflows in a year but generally prohibits separate sanitary sewer overflows except under extreme conditions.

By late Tuesday night, the City of Milwaukee said it had received about 150 complaints of backwater in basements and water flowing into basements through basement windows. At least a half dozen manhole covers were displaced.

Of course.

MMSD is fouling Lake Michigan and rivers again.

Are we supposed to be impressed that this is the first time this year that MMSD has dumped sewage into Milwaukee's source of drinking water?

In an interesting twist, news of the sewage dumping comes on the same day that Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett and other city officials held a news conference about the problem of illegal dumping.

From FOX 6 News:

This is the season for a lot of outdoor fun, but unfortunately it is also a time when the City of Milwaukee sees an increase of illegal dumping.

The City of Milwaukee is asking for help from citizens to stop these culprits, and this growing problem.

Sanitation Services Manager Wanda Book said, "There are over 3,000 city owned vacant lots across the city that unscrupulous characters have been using as their private dumping grounds."

Last year, the city spent $175,000 clearing illegally dumped debris and the problem is getting worse.

City leaders say citizen reporting is the key.

"We need citizens who are tired," Alderwoman Milele Coggs said. "Who are sick and tired of their neighborhoods being used as a garbage dumping ground and we need them to be the eyes and ears on the streets for us."

Common Council President Willie Hines witnessed illegal dumping in his district and he took action.

Hines said "Write [their] drivers license plate down, the name of the company and forward it to the police department of which we were able to cite him."

...If you see illegal dumping in progress, call the Milwaukee Police Department's non-emergency number.

Also, you should call the We Tip hot-line number at 1-800-78-CRIME. You can be rewarded up to a thousand dollars if your information leads to prosecution.


Illegal dumping on city or private property is a serious problem. It shouldn't be tolerated.

Citizens should report this crime if they see their neighborhood being abused as a dumping ground.

A thousand dollars in reward money is quite an incentive to get involved.

Too bad Mayor Tom Barrett and city officials tolerate dumping sewage in Lake Michigan. I wish they'd take a strong stand against that.

Prepare for Milwaukee area beaches to prohibit swimming due to contaminated water.

Same old, same old.


jimspice said...

I'm on your side on this one. The deep tunnel system is a huge debacle. And not only because I live 3 blocks from the lake right at the location of the poop spigot.

But I have to wonder...are you equally alarmed at the weakening of environmental protections at the state level?

Mary said...

I'd be alarmed if environmental protections at the state level were weakened so that the massive dumping of sewage into Wisconsin's lakes and waterways became acceptable.

jimspice said...

I'll take that as a no.

Mary said...

You have to be more specific.

I don't know which "environmental protections" you're talking about.

jimspice said...

-Dropping requirement of localities to disinfect their water.
-Exempting wetland parcels from protection.
-Diverting Great Lakes water from the watershed.
-Hostility to wind farms.
-Cutting funding for recycling.
-Eliminating the Office of Energy Independence and related loans and grants.
-Favoring highways over mass transit.
-Speeding up reviews of mine permit applications.
-Easing phosphorous regulations.
-Delaying new limits on water pollution.
-Cutting $26 million from the state's stewardship program.

I'm sure I'm missing several.

Mary said...

Do you think that dropping a state requirement for localities to disinfect their water means the water will become unsafe?

"Come live and work in (fill in the blank)!

"We don't bother to have clean water because of Scott Walker."

Make sense?

jimspice said...

Why was it in there then?

Any thoughts on the others?

Mary said...

I think the state needed to deal with a massive budget shortfall.

Restoring the state to fiscal health is not painless.

I don't see the measures as the outgrowth of hostility toward the environment or environmental irresponsibility.

I have faith that communities will continue to safeguard their water supplies and make decisions that protect the environment.