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Blue Notes by Kevin Shafer - Deep Tunnel Earth Day Appreciation

04/22/22 07:00:am
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Earth Day 2022 is here!

Started by U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin in 1970, Earth Day has grown into a celebration that shares our environmental cleanup successes and identifies what more needs to be done.  In Milwaukee, we have lived through a natural renaissance of our rivers and Lake Michigan. The rivers have less concrete lining, are cleaner, and have seen a resurgence of wildlife habitats.  We have much to be proud of.

In my mind, the renaissance started in 1993 with the operation of the deep tunnel system.  Since that time, the deep tunnel has captured 141 billion gallons of water that, prior to 1993 would have flowed into Lake Michigan.  That is 98.3% of all the water that flowed into the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District’s sewer system.  This polluted water was cleaned and returned to the Lake where it can be used again.

I know there are many other State and community projects that have been a part of this cleanup, but I think the deep tunnel was the game-changer. 

This year I thank every person who worked for MMSD to build the deep tunnel system.  Your efforts have helped us to protect Lake Michigan, where we get our drinking water and have provided us the opportunity to live a healthier, happier life.  You are the unsung heroes of our river renaissance.  THANK YOU!!

As we celebrate Earth Day 2022, be thankful for what we have accomplished while understanding that there is more still to be done.  Which reminds another big thank you goes out to the Milwaukee Riverkeeper for their work every year sponsoring the river cleanups.

Be Safe. Be Understanding. Be Kind.

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

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