Lake Michigan


The Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District’s 2035 Vision and Strategic Objectives

Revised December 16, 2010

In the last 35 years, the Milwaukee region has transformed its approach to water. This transformation has helped to clean up the area’s rivers and to preserve Lake Michigan. The Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District (MMSD) takes pride in this progress, and understands that it must continue this transformation by adapting and evolving to the changing world.

Looking forward to the next 25 years, MMSD sees a quarter century of efficiency, innovation, and sustainability. The vision for MMSD has two key elements: 1) Integrated Watershed Management and 2) Climate Change Mitigation/Adaptation with an emphasis on Energy Efficiency. For these elements, MMSD has laid the necessary groundwork and has the resiliency necessary to continue to serve as a model for both the region and the nation.

Guiding Principles

Sustainable Bottom Line

Future planning, design, and operational decisions will be made based on a Sustainable Bottom Line approach that considers balanced Economic, Environmental, Operational, and Social Values.

Water Quality Leadership and Collaboration

MMSD will continue to expand its leadership role in developing regional approaches to protecting and improving water quality. MMSD will continue to develop and foster strategic alliances in its planning and project implementation. MMSD will continue to advocate for a watershed approach to managing the region’s water resources and will take a watershed approach to managing its own operations.

2035 Vision

MMSD envisions a healthier Milwaukee region and a cleaner Lake Michigan accomplished through its leadership in attaining zero overflows, zero basement backups, and improved storm water management. MMSD will be a model in its management of climate change impacts on wet weather and its focus on energy efficient and sustainable operations.

Strategic Objectives

Using these guiding principles and this Vision, the strategic objectives for MMSD for the year 2035 are as follows:

1. Integrated Watershed Management

An integrated approach to watershed management must be established that responds to inter-jurisdictional opportunities and limitations. This will be accomplished by continuing MMSD’s pursuit of excellent permit performance at its water reclamation facilities, preventing problems through its ongoing maintenance programs, and improving upon the already significant capital investments made within MMSD’s service area. MMSD must also expand on the integration of its efforts, where appropriate, with those of external public, private, and nonprofit sector partners.

This integrated approach will focus on the infrastructure of the watersheds, seeking a healthy balance between two types of infrastructure: grey and green. Grey infrastructure is comprised of the roads, pipes, treatment plants, and other impervious surfaces that store, convey, or treat water. Green infrastructure uses management approaches and technologies to infiltrate, evaporate, capture, and reuse water to maintain or restore natural hydrology. The preservation and restoration of natural landscape features, such as forests, floodplains and wetlands, are critical components of green infrastructure. On a smaller scale, green infrastructure practices include rain gardens, rain barrels, porous pavements, green roofs, bioswales, trees and tree boxes, and rainwater harvesting.

Integrated Watershed Management Goals:

a. Support a watershed-based permitting program and water quality trading program that improves environmental performance in a cost effective manner.

b. Work with MMSD’s partners to strive toward zero basement backups.

c. Work with MMSD’s partners to achieve, to the extent feasible, zero sanitary sewer overflows and zero combined sewer overflows.

d. Work with MMSD’s partners to achieve zero homes in the 1% probability floodplain.

e. Acquire an additional 10,000 acres of river buffers through Greenseams and other regional programs.

f. Use green infrastructure to capture the first 0.5 inch of rainfall.

g. Harvest the first 0.25 gallons per square foot of area of rainfall.

Integrated Watershed Management Initiatives:

a. MMSD will help municipalities within the District reduce the volume of flows they deliver to MMSD’s sewer system cost effectively.

b. Continue to plan, design, construct, and operate MMSD’s grey infrastructure to exceed regulatory and economic requirements.

c. Greenseams

1) Expand the boundaries of the Greenseams program to match regional watershed boundaries.

2) Designate a percentage of annual Greenseams funding toward improving the rainwater storage capacity of the properties.

d. Maximize MMSD’s ability to deliver public educational programming to increase the general public’s support and understanding of its operations.

e. Integrate green infrastructure with MMSD’s grey infrastructure.

1) Provide leadership and advocate for a change in the Federal, State, and local definitions of infrastructure to include green infrastructure.

2) Develop a plan that integrates the use of green infrastructure within the regional flood management program and municipal stormwater systems to maximize their effectiveness.

3) Establish performance measures for green infrastructure.

4) Establish regional ordinances that foster green infrastructure.

5) Prioritize by location the types and benefits of green infrastructure.

6) Establish implementation target levels for green infrastructure on five-year intervals.

7) Work with the M7 Water Council and local universities to develop a Great Lakes Center of Excellence for Green Infrastructure in Milwaukee.

2. Climate Change Mitigation/Adaptation with an emphasis on Energy Efficiency

Becoming more efficient and renewable with energy usage will help MMSD adapt to changing climate, but it must also consider that climate change may have significant impacts on the District in ways beyond energy usage. As the global climate changes, there are likely to be changes within the hydrosphere.

Energy Efficiency and Climate Mitigation & Adaptation Goals:

a. Meet a net 100% of MMSD’s energy needs with renewable energy sources.

b. Meet 80% of MMSD’s energy needs with internal, renewable sources.

c. Use the Greenseams Program to provide for 30% sequestration of MMSD’s carbon footprint.

d. Reduce MMSD’s carbon footprint by 90% from its 2005 baseline.

e. Anticipate, to the greatest extent practicable, and respond to a range of climate change impacts when considering surface water, groundwater, and the management of stormwater and floodwater.

Climate Mitigation & Adaptation Initiatives:

a. Create and support a robust southeast Wisconsin regional climate change modeling program that will help forecast climate change impacts.

b. Create an internal risk analysis process that characterizes near-, mid- and long-term actions necessary to protect MMSD’s existing investments in facilities and create new facilities, programs, and operational improvements that adapt to the wet weather impacts of climate change.

c. Expand green infrastructure to help to mitigate climate change and make the region more resilient in the face of intense storms.

Realizing a cleaner, healthier environment is within the District’s grasp. Aggressive collaboration will be the key to success, and ensuring that the District utilizes a sustainable bottom line approach in taking the steps outlined in this Vision will make sure a balance is met as MMSD proceeds.