The Clean Rivers Campaign is concerned about the water quality here in Pittsburgh due to our combined sewer system which can lead to raw sewage overflowing into our rivers. Many post-industrial cities across the US are facing similar challenges and are discussing what solutions are best.
Milwaukee, Wisconsin has emerged recently as a key player in water quality advancements related to mitigating combined sewer overflows.
The Executive Director of the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District (MMSD), Kevin Shafer, recently wrote an article that was published in the Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal Sentinel. There, Shafer explained Milwaukee’s plans for green infrastructure and the impact it can make on their communities.
One highlight of the article reads, “MMSD’s Regional Green Infrastructure Plan calls for us to capture the first half-inch of rainfall on our region, keeping it out of the pipes…That translates into 740 million gallons of water or 42% more volume than the Deep Tunnel currently holds. To provide some perspective, every inch of rain in MMSD’s service area equals 7.1 billion gallons of water”. Shafer also says that a significant impact to stormwater runoff can come from more strategic lawn care. Adding solutions like gypsum will improve the biology of the soil and in turn, its efficiency in absorbing rainwater.
Shafer admits green infrastructure is not the only solution in Milwaukee. The city has already invested in improvements to underground tunnels that have proved beneficial. These solutions working together will bring great results to Milwaukee and its water quality. As other cities that are similar to Milwaukee (like Pittsburgh!) continue to seek answers to their water quality and stormwater concerns, this case can act as an example. Read more about Milwaukee, its water quality, and Shafer’s thoughts here.