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MMSD’s Sustainability Journey: Advancing Climate Resilience and Energy Independence

MMSD Blue Notes from Kevin Shafter
03/26/24 07:30:am

Yes, it is changing, and yes, it affects every single one of us.  The “it” in this sentence is the climate.  At the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District (MMSD), progress toward addressing this monumental challenge has been underway since 2005, and it continues today.

In 2023, MMSD met 27% of its annual energy needs through renewable energy sources, saving our ratepayers $1.6 million annually.

The MMSD Commission recently approved an update to the MMSD Energy Plan.  The goals of the plan are to meet MMSD’s aggressive climate resilience targets identified in the 2035 Vision.

When met, MMSD will use renewable energy sources to meet 100% of its energy needs, with 80% of these renewable energy sources coming from MMSD’s own renewable energy production. This effort will result in a 90% reduction in MMSD’s carbon footprint by 2035!

The updated Energy Plan lays out the next steps; however, much has already been accomplished.  Today, MMSD is:

  • Meeting 27% of its annual energy needs through renewable energy sources.  This lines up very well with the US Energy Information Administration data that says renewables provided 23% of the US energy generation in 2023. 
  • Saving its ratepayers $1.6 million annually by using renewables.
  • Realizing an 18% reduction in its greenhouse gas emissions since 2005. 

We are on the right path!

Moving to be more energy-independent is just one facet of our ongoing sustainability efforts. 

  • In 2023, MMSD had only one combined sewer overflow.  We captured and cleaned 99.7% of the stormwater and wastewater that entered our system. Our goal is 100%!
  • MMSD continues to provide superior wastewater treatment to protect Lake Michigan and the region’s residents.
  • At the end of 2023, MMSD had 130 million gallons of operational green infrastructure.  Our goal is 740 million gallons!
Green Infrastructure strategies like planting a rain garden, installing a rain barrel and a green roof.
  • In 2022, MMSD initiated a partnership with Ducks Unlimited to restore wetlands and reforest the greater Milwaukee River waterways.  In 2024, we anticipate planting thousands of trees to help reduce polluted stormwater runoff.
  • Working with partners throughout the region to correct the sins of our region’s past, MMSD is building a containment facility to store contaminated sediments and restore fish migratory paths.
  • Methodically, MMSD works throughout our river areas to remove concrete linings, restore habitat, and reduce the flood risk to homes and businesses.
MMSD removed 4,400 linear feet of concrete channel to return Underwood Creek to a more naturalized state, reducing flood risks, improving public safety, and restoring habitats.

MMSD removed 4,400 linear feet of concrete channel to return Underwood Creek to a more naturalized state, reducing flood risks, improving public safety, and restoring habitats.

Climate change is a daunting, never-ending challenge, but in Milwaukee, we have been and are meeting that challenge head-on.  The approved Energy Plan moves us even further. We are not done yet, but we will continue to tackle this challenge!

Be Safe. Be Understanding. Be Kind.

Kevin L. Shafer, P.E.
Executive Director - Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District 

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MMSD Rain Garden Plant Sale

MMSD's Spring Rain Garden Plant Sale

Help protect Lake Michigan by ordering rain garden plants for up to 50% off retail. Plant supplies are limited for this plant sale. Once plants SELL OUT, the SALE WILL CLOSE! Order your rain garden plants today!


MMSD Water Drop Alert

Text: WATERDROP to 414-296-4422 for Española texto GOTADEAGUA a 414-296-4422

Receive Water Drop Alert text messages when heavy rain threatens the area. When a Water Drop Alert has been issued, a reminder is sent to use less water.

What do you do when an alert is issued?

  • Hold off on washing dishes and laundry
  • Take a shorter shower 
  • Empty your rain barrel