Share This

Blue Notes by Kevin Shafer - A Toxic Legacy: Cleaning Up Milwaukee’s Waterways

12/11/20 09:00:am
Blue Notes Newsletter from Kevin Shafer


There is a transformation occurring in our region that many do not realize is occurring.  Our rivers are being restored, creating an urban metamorphosis that is not only remedying our flooding problems, it is also bringing back people and nature.

In this video, John Gurda says it is a story “about flagrant abuse and a promise of redemption”.



John Gurda further explains the history of pollution and the opportunities we have to clean up our rivers in this article.

Everyone at the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District takes great pride in this metamorphosis.  Please enjoy this short video and try to do your part to continue this metamorphosis; pick up litter and use water efficiently.

I agree with John, it is a promise of redemption!

Happy holidays to all!

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

Join our Blue Notes email list to receive quarterly MMSD updates and news. 

What is an Area of Concern (AOC)?

It's defined in the United States-Canada Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement as "a geographic area designated by the Parties where significant impairment of beneficial uses has occurred as a result of human activities at the local level." It is an area that has experienced environmental degradation. When AOCs were originally identified, there were 43 areas in the Great Lakes region. As of August 2016, 7 AOCs (4 in the US and 3 in Canada) have been de-listed.

Where is the Milwaukee Area of Concern (AOC) Located?

The original boundaries of the AOC included the lower 5 km of the Milwaukee River downstream of North Avenue Dam; the lower 4.8 km of the Menomonee River downstream of 35th Street; the lower 4 km of the Kinnickinnic River downstream of Chase Avenue; the inner and outer harbors; and the nearshore waters of Lake Michigan, bounded by a line extending north from Sheridan Park to the city of Milwaukee’s Linnwood water intake.

In 2008, the boundaries of the Milwaukee AOC were expanded for the purposes of addressing sites that contributed significant loads of contaminated sediments to the estuary. 

Want to learn more about the Milwaukee River Estuary Area of Concern? Find out how you can help the Milwaukee Estuary make a full recovery here.