drone photo of basin h

Basin H Sewers PCB Cleanup

Project Update

Thank you to everyone that joined MMSD and the Waterway Restoration Partnership on May 9, 2022 for the virtual meeting to learn more about the Basin H project and the planned clean-up of contaminated material in the Milwaukee River Greenway. If you missed it, watch the recording of the meeting now.

Project Description

The Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District (MMSD) is partnering with the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) to clean sewers located west of the Milwaukee River along Humboldt Avenue between Capitol Drive and Locust Avenue known as “Basin H”.

A 2008 investigation identified the Milwaukee Die Cast Company, located at 4132 North Holton Street in the City of Milwaukee, as the primary source of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB’s), that were coating sewers in this area. PCB’s are legacy chemicals that were banned in 1978 which require removal to avoid problems in the future and keep our rivers and lake clean. The USEPA removed the PCB’s at the business site. MMSD is now preparing to remove and safely dispose of the PCB contamination that remains in the sewers. 

This project is part of a larger initiative to clean up the Milwaukee Estuary Area of Concern (AOC). Learn more about the AOC by watching this John Gurda video or visiting the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources website here.  

Description of the Process

A qualified contractor will use powerful vacuum equipment and specially outfitted trucks with sealed liquid containers to complete the cleaning process through manholes located along North Humboldt Boulevard and in Kern and Pleasant Valley Parks. Precautions will be made to secure the work sites and prevent any sediment from migrating further downstream.

This project will follow a USEPA approved remediation work plan which consists of the following steps:

  • Clean the sewers and remove the contaminated sediments
  • Dry out the removed sediment and capture/contain the water
  • Test the sediment for PCB’s and send to an appropriate disposal site
  • Treat (to remove PCB’s) all wastewater captured as part of the sediment removal and sewer cleaning process
  • Test the treated wastewater for PCB’s before putting it back into the sewer system
  • Televise the sewer with cameras to ensure sediment has been removed
  • Perform pre‐cleaning and post‐cleaning sampling of sewers and work areas

Project Map

mmsd basin H map

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    Typical vacuum equipment used to remove PCB’s from sewers.

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    Trucks with sealed liquid container.


Milwaukee County Parks will continue to be open to the public, but there will be limited traffic and trail impacts during the project.


  • 2016 - 2021 - Project Design
  • Spring 2022 – Fall 2023 – PCB Removal, Treatment, Disposal and Site Restoration Work

*Timeline subject to change


  • Clean sewers
  • Improved water quality
  • A healthier community

Questions or Comments

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