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Sustainability is a rich part of the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District's (MMSD) history, integral to present-day operations, and critical to our future. Focused initially on water reclamation and resource recovery, our mission is evolving over time to encompass many overlapping facets of environmental and public health.
Sustainability is not an endpoint at MMSD, but rather it is the pathway forward. It’s about ensuring we do our part to protect the region’s environmental health, support social sustainability, and be fiscally responsible. By doing this, we want to help ensure future generations in southeastern Wisconsin have better opportunities than current generations.
Cleaning water is very energy-intensive; therefore, MMSD's energy plan has identified ways to incorporate renewable energy to reduce energy costs, price volatility, greenhouse gases, and to provide energy security. To reduce our carbon footprint, each water reclamation facility has the capability to generate renewable energy.
The Jones Island Water Reclamation facility's primary renewable fuel comes from landfill gas, a local renewable energy source recycled into power, saving MMSD ratepayers millions of dollars.
The South Shore Water Reclamation facility's primary renewable fuel comes from methane gas produced by the digesters. If we do not capture, clean, and burn the methane gas in generators, it would be a waste of this energy. Instead, it saves ratepayers approximately $70,500 in savings each month by avoiding purchasing natural gas.
Landfill and digester gas are renewable fuels that reduce MMSD’s non-biogenic greenhouse gas emissions. MMSD has reduced our greenhouse gas emissions by 16% since 2005.
MMSD continues to pursue energy reduction and renewable generating technologies to support our 2035 Vision.
“Our climate is changing, and we need to change with it. Increasing intense storms in our region make sewer overflows and flooding bigger threats. Incremental steps taken now will help us reduce these risks in the future.
While water flows downhill, adapting to climate change is a serious uphill battle. Nevertheless, if each of us takes steps to manage rainwater where it falls, we can reduce the risk of basement and street flooding and the amount of water that leaks into our sanitary systems, causing sewer overflows.
You can help! Install a rain barrel or build a rain garden. These green infrastructure improvements or just reducing the water we use each day will help us adapt”
-Kevin Shafer, P.E. - MMSD Executive Director
Four of Wisconsin’s top five wettest years have taken place in the last decade, and 2019 was the wettest year ever recorded.
Predicting the next big storm is impossible, but we do need to be prepared. Intense storms challenge our ability to build, operate, and maintain MMSD’s robust infrastructure, so we’re continually planning to ensure we're as ready as possible.
We know it’s important to do our part to reduce our greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. To do this, we first inventoried our GHG emissions in 2010 and are updating that work now. Our goal is to reduce our carbon footprint by 90% from baseline conditions by 2035.
Updates and Recommendations to the MMSD’s Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation Programs
MMSD Climate Change Vulnerability Report
Adaptation Strategies for Water Utilities - U.S. EPA
Confronting Climate Change - NACWA
Green House Gas Inventory - MMSD
MMSD envisions a healthier Milwaukee region and a cleaner Lake Michigan accomplished through its leadership in attaining zero overflows, zero basement backups, and improved stormwater management. MMSD will be a model in its management of climate change impacts on wet weather and its focus on energy-efficient and sustainable operations.
MMSD will continue to play a strong role in this region’s collaborative efforts to improve the region’s water resources. This is a crucial responsibility that builds heavily on our sustainable past and relies on relationships with partners throughout Greater Milwaukee. By identifying and assembling partner combinations for projects and programs, we can help ensure a sustainable tomorrow.
This plan identifies goals and strategies for enhancing urban biodiversity in the MMSD planning area by making recommendations for incorporating biodiversity into green infrastructure and other projects, identifying high-priority conservation and rehabilitation areas, and suggesting future areas for research, monitoring, and education/outreach.
This plan is a framework for how the Milwaukee metropolitan area can address complex threats for a stronger, more resilient region. To realize a more sustainable, resilient future for our community we first need to understand the social, economic and environmental climate of the Milwaukee region.
Green infrastructure captures, absorbs or stores rain and melting snow, taking on numerous shapes and sizes from 55-gallon rain barrels to trees and porous pavers for parking lots, driveways and sidewalks. You can see green roofs on buildings or bioswales along city streets.
A Green Luminary® helps protect our rivers and Lake Michigan by adopting practices that harvest rainfall for other uses, or mimic nature, by helping it soak into the ground to reduce water pollution. View previous Green Luminary® award winners from the MMSD service area.
Greenseams® helps prevent future flooding and water pollution while supporting and protecting MMSD's structural flood management projects - infrastructure investments worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Greenseams® is an innovative flood management program that permanently protects key lands containing water absorbing soils.