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MMSD Freshwater Resources Monitoring: 2023 Annual Summary

05/13/24 04:00:pm
MMSD research vessel the Mallard on the water

The Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District (MMSD) Freshwater Resources Monitoring group conducts routine surface water monitoring at nearly 100 fixed monitoring sites within the MMSD Planning Area and Lake Michigan.

Field measurements and grab samples are taken at these sites in all weather conditions and brought to the in-house certified laboratory to be analyzed for up to 41 different parameters. 


Why Does MMSD Monitor Our Freshwater?

  • Monitor impacts of MMSD projects and water reclamation facilities on the waterways
  • Develop historical data
  • Share data with the public and research partners
  • Document trends in the waterways
  • Early detection of issues in the waterways 

2023 Freshwater Resources Monitoring Annual Summary Report

To summarize the large amount of data collected each year, the MMSD Freshwater Resources Monitoring group produces an annual report that highlights water quality in Southeastern Wisconsin. The 2023 report focuses on the Underwood Creek Watershed and the work MMSD is undertaking to help improve our water resources and public health.

Compliance with Water Quality Criteria

In the 2023 summary report, view the map of the sampling sites and the percentage of samples meeting surface water quality criteria, such as chloride, total phosphorous, e. coli, dissolved oxygen, and total suspended solids. 

A Closer Examination of Underwood Creek

The main channel of Underwood Creek originates in the City of Brookfield and flows approximately eight miles in a generally eastern direction to its confluence with the Menomonee River. The Underwood Creek Watershed encompasses approximately 19.8 square miles and includes portions of the municipalities of Brookfield, Elm Grove, Milwaukee, Wauwatosa, and West Allis. A high percentage of the creek bed is concrete-lined, has poor habitat for aquatic organisms, and is impaired for water quality.​

A watershed of this size requires large amounts of effort and assets to make a difference in water quality. Even so, MMSD and our partners have embraced multiple improvement projects of varying types. This area has seen both large projects like the  County Grounds and almost two miles of concrete removed, but also smaller projects like a homeowner who plants a rain garden in their yard. It's a holistic approach that incorporates projects of all sizes to tackle the problems facing Underwood Creek and adding their impacts together to affect change.

Watershed restoration can take an extremely long time to realize water quality improvements. Long-term monitoring is critical not only to document these changes after the completion of the project but also to collect adequate data to determine a baseline. MMSD has been actively monitoring Underwood Creek since 2003 and a number of exciting projects have happened in that time. ​View the Underwood Creek timeline starting in 1960 to 2023. 


Adopt A River Milwaukee RiverKeeper


Looking for something to do as a team? Something that will bring you closer together, make a huge difference in your community, and only needs to be done twice per year? Consider adopting a section of the Milwaukee, Menomonee and Kinnickinnic Rivers. 

Underwood Creek flood mangment project

Local Projects

Learn about local flood management projects and how to get involved in your community.