MMSD dumped more raw sewage
Release continued for 19 hours, district says
By STEVE SCHULTZE
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel staff
Last Updated: Aug. 15, 2002
The Milwaukee metropolitan sewer system dumped raw sewage
for 19 hours from Tuesday afternoon until early Wednesday,
in addition to the 13 hours of dumping late Monday and
early Tuesday, a district spokesman said.
Sewer officials remained mum Wednesday on just how much
raw sewage they dumped into Lake Michigan this week.
The Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District did provide
an official figure for the volume of partially treated
sewage dumped into the lake: 75 million gallons. That
wastewater skipped at least one major stage of treatment,
although all of the 75 million gallons was at least disinfected
with chlorine and mixed with fully treated effluent before
The district may release a figure today for the quantity
of completely untreated sewage that was dumped after rainstorms
Monday and Tuesday, said MMSD spokesman Bill Graffin.
"Our people are still working on it," he said.
Total sewage flow during the heaviest rain hit a temporary
rate of 3.5 billion gallons per day, Graffin said.
"You get that flow going, you can't stop it," he said.
MMSD officials shut off access to the deep tunnels Monday
night and again Tuesday, allowing extra sewage to overflow
into streams and the lake.
All three giant pumps sucking wastewater from the tunnel
and sending it to the Jones Island sewage treatment plant
have been operating continuously since heavy rains hit
Monday, said Frank Munsey, operations manager for United
Water Services, the private contractor that operates the
tunnel and treatment plants.
State and federal rules discourage dumping from combined
storm and sanitary sewers and virtually ban dumping of
more concentrated wastes from sanitary sewers. MMSD's
permit allows up to six instances of dumping a year from
All of this week's dumping came from combined sewers,
Rainfall in the Milwaukee area ranged from 2.72 inches
in Mequon to 4.93 inches in Elm Grove, according to MMSD
About 100 homeowners on Milwaukee's south side reported
basement sewage backups after this week's storms, said
Jim Koster, sewer services manager for the city. Those
reports came mostly from the 3200 block of S. 39th St.;
51st St. and S. Howard Ave.; near 43rd St. and S. Howard
Ave.; and 39th St. and S. Morgan Ave., he said.
Eleventh District Ald. Joe Dudzik said his office received
several dozen calls from constituents complaining of flooded
basements and catch basins that were not taking in water.
The complaints, which came from residents throughout
his southwest side district, were relayed to the Department
of Public Works, he said.
"If you're the guy standing ankle deep in brown water
it's a serious matter," Dudzik said.
There were no reports of backups in the Lincoln Creek
neighborhood, which experienced ongoing flooding problems
in recent years before the completion of a $115.4 million
watercourse improvement project, Graffin said.
Sewage dumping from local sewer lines also was reported
by three municipalities this week: Milwaukee, Wauwatosa
and West Allis, said Jim Fratrick, a Department of Natural
Resources watershed expert. West Allis reported dumping
8,145 gallons; totals for Milwaukee and Wauwatosa have
not yet been reported, Fratrick said.
All three city beaches still had warnings about high
E. coli levels posted Wednesday. Other Milwaukee County
beaches, except Shorewood's Atwater Park Beach, also had
E. coli warnings Wednesday.