Milwaukee Green Map: Waste and Watersheds
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Waste and Watersheds: The Deep Tunnel Project

Milwaukee's Deep Tunnel Project. While watersheds serve to supply freshwater to a region, they also flush waste materials away. Southeastern Wisconsin's watersheds are no exception. Here, many floodplains and wetlands have dissapeared through development, while much of Milwaukee County's land area is covered with non-absorbing surfaces in the form of streets, sidewalks, and building surfaces. To that end a replacement for the original watershed is necessary. Like most urban places Milwaukee County has replaced their wastewater watershed function with sewers. Unlike most urban places Milwaukee has invested in a more secure sewage holding system.

The Deep Tunnel Project, an 18-year renovation of the area's waste water collection and treatment system, resulting in 17+ miles of tunnels is a waste water overflow catchment system designed to keep pollutants out of Lake Michigan. Designed and managed by the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District (MMSD), the Deep Tunnel is capable of holding up to 400 million gallons of storm and waste water runoff. Running about 300 feet below the surface, with tunnels 17 to 32 feet in diameter, the project took nine years to build. Some 250,000 truckloads of waste rock were removed, these eventually built what is soon to become Milwaukee's new Lakeshore State Park.

Waste water is conveyed to the Jones Island and South Shore waste water treatment plants by a 2,200-mile system of collector sewers and a 310-mile system of intercepting and main sewers. The two treatment facilities collect and treat more than 200 million gallons of waste water each day, and return cleaned water to Lake Michigan.

Remaining solids are landfilled or turned into Milorganite (derived from Milwaukee Organic Nitrogen), an organic fertilizer produced by recycling biosolids at Milwaukee's Jones Island Waste water Treatment Plant. This commercial fertilizer is available throughout the United States. MMSD also produces a liquid organic soil conditioner called Agri-Life. Contact MMSD at 414/272-5100.

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