Upset with MMSD? What’s your Solution?

Bellyaching. Whining. Constant political attacks.

Really now, wouldn’t you think that everyone would have something better to do than complain about MMSD? I mean, I get it — there is sewage dumping that happens a few times a year in order to reduce the possibility of sewage backups into peoples basements. That dumping goes into Lake Michigan and it’s understandable that people are upset, but rather than complain all the time, what solutions do they bring to the table?


While the MMSD board has greatly reduced dumping to levels even lower than its neighboring Chicago, even folks from Chicago have pointed to MMSD and threatened lawsuits due to the dumping. What has Chicago done to solve their problem? They divert their waste into the Mississippi River rather than dumping into Lake Michigan. Let’s face it — neither is a good solution but with the massive reduction of incidents, why the continued gripe without solutions.

I’d really like to hear what their solutions are because all that’s coming out of the inappropriately named conservatives these days is venomous rhetoric and no solutions.



  1. Mike B:

    The folks who demagogue this issue (Sykes, Belling, et al)DON’T really have a real answer. Oh yeah “Separate the sewers!” So we should dig up every mile of street in the city, all the while continuing to dump at the pre-TARP rate? Because that’s what separating the sewer lines from storm water would require.

    The dumping drives me nuts, too. But this is the real world. Resources are limited and we are forced to deal with decisions made long ago. The combined sewers were state of the art when Milwaukee was originally built up — separated systems were an innovation that came decades too late.

    Part of the trouble is that what is reported is the volume of waste water. The numbers after a significant rain event can boggle the mind. What really needs to be reported is the quantity of biological oxygen demand (BOD) — the waste dumped after a big rain event should be VERY dilute.

    BOD is the pollutant that we are concerned with. It is the part of the sewage that is consumed by aerobic micro-organisms — too much BOD causes the microbes to deplete the oxygen dissolved in the water, creating putrid water.

    If an industrial user or power plant dumped 2 billion gallons of water in the lake with 50 pounds of mercury (like BP wants to do in Indiana), the problem isn’t the water, but the mercury. In the case of a waste water treatment system, the problem is BOD, not the water.

    Through it all, MMSD has been frankly too stupid to coherently explain what’s going on, so they deserve the abuse in a way.

    The demagogues are really not interested in pollution — they have political points to score. Once their guys are in office, you won’t hear about dumping, at least not til the next election.

  2. Christopher Thomas:

    First of all, Barrett ran on improving MMSD, but its pretty obvious from his track record he doesn’t care. And while nothing could have prevented last weekend’s flooding, separating the sewers in Milwaukee and Shorewood would help. Yes, this solution is very, very expensive, but this can’t go on. If the money isn’t there right now to do it all, begin with parts which could ease the burden on the whole system. This is a much greater priority than stupid trains. Secondly, replace the current MMSD board which no longer has the confidence of the community. Replace them with elected officials whose compensation is tied to performance. Thirdly, ask Barrett why he doesn’t give a crap about the vital infrastructure of the city, only pointless trollies to cart around drunk rich white people.

    And yes, I’m sick and tired of having to carry ruined crap out of basements of family and friends each time the three-year storm arrives. This is a first-world country.

  3. Nick Cipollone:


    Wait a minute… WAIT a minute… “… while nothing could have prevented last weekend’s flooding, separating the sewers in Milwaukee and Shorewood would help.” No, Chris. You may not have your free lunch. There is no such thing as a free lunch. When you say, “… yes, this solution is very expensive”, you clearly have no idea whatsoever just how expensive it would be, even piecemeal, as you suggest, and getting rid of those silly trollies wouldn’t cover the cost of a fraction of it. Face it. This is the austerity you been asking for. You’ve got your federal income tax cuts for billionaires, you’ve got your capital gains tax cuts, your Republican heroes are trying to end the estate tax (that only applies to the richest 0.3 percent of the population- heck, all Rush had to do was to call it a “Death Tax” and you saw evil government prying Grannie’s gold teeth out of her head, to tax her for dying- news flash, Chris- THERE IS NO “DEATH TAX”), no volatility reducing transaction tax on Wall St traders- now you want the city to do a billion dollar sewer fix (yeah, it’s gonna cost that much) without Federal funding, and without raising your property taxes, without raising sales taxes? Infrastructure fixes for free are a free lunch.

    67% of all corporations- domestic and foreign- that did business in the United States between 2001 and 2008 had at least one year in which they PAID NO INCOME TAX. What a deal. You believe in the Free Market- go ask them for some money to fix the sewers, out of civic responsibility, and the kindness of their hearts.

    Those sewers are not going to be fixed. Austerity. You asked for it. Learn to love it.

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