Notes from Discussion between Karen Sands of MMSD and TM Water Group 12/02/10 at the Pink House
Attendees: Barb B. Barbara R. Bryce R. - facilitator Chris T. co-facilitator Dan F. Karen Sands (presenter & TM member) Keith Holt (visitor and Enact participant) Kent B. - recorder Melissa Tashjian <teacher?> Terri K.
Milwaukee’s Water Working Group invited fellow member Karen Sands,
Manager for Sustainability for the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage
District to share a presentation on sewers and waste water treatment by
MMSD. A brief Power Point presentation was viewed and discussed. The
presentation included statistics regarding sewerage overflows / backups
dating back several years prior to when the Deep Tunnel was
operational. Diagrams of the entire sewer district with distinctions
between combined and separated sanitary systems shown. A map of 23
problem areas identified by MMSD was also viewed.
information shared included descriptions of efforts and projects
supported by MMSD to alleviate overflows due to catastrophic rain
events. Some of these efforts include establishment of several green
roof systems. Another very successful and visible effort is their rain
barrel program; to date they have sold over 14,000 barrels.
Following is a listing of questions and answers posed during Karen’s presentation: Bryce:
Does MMSD have any plans to purchase land in the Upper Oak Creek
watershed? A: Yes, MMSD is seeking purchase of parcels held privately
and that are > 25 acres.
Keith: Regarding the recent sewerage
backups, how do they relate to the 23 problem areas shown on the MMSD
map? A: None of the recent issues occurred in any of the problem areas.
Barbara: Rain gardens / “Green Streets” – is cost-sharing
available to residents who are interested in transforming their terrace
/ boulevards into “Green Streets”? A: Yes, cost-sharing IS available
from MMSD; a new program may be launched in the future.
What variables exist in the problem areas? A: There are multiple
variables in the problem areas, a unique combination of each
contributes to the issues including: hard-scapes, broken laterals,
multiple additions to existing properties over many years (increase in
foot print and thus runoff), etc.
Barb: What is the level of
commitment, if any, by MMSD to removal of hard-scapes; effecting change
in out-dated ordinances? A: Presently there are few if any changes
being sought to current ordinances. Karen is planning a “re-review” of
existing ordinances. The Executive Director’s 2035 Vision plan is in
the works. This should provide a starting point for further reviews and
efforts to effect changes. ** What about tax credits or incentives
for businesses that implement measures to reduce their runoff /
storm-water fee? A: Businesses CAN and do get breaks on their
storm-water fees. An example of one local landscaping business was
cited which has implemented measures such that their storm-water fee
has been eliminated. Some information regarding this is listed on the backs of our water bills.
There appears to be mis-communication between the City of Milwaukee,
MMSD and private home-owners. As an example a complaint about sewer gas
entering her home was voiced and she was told to pour bleach down her
drain. What sort of communication occurs between MMSD and city
officials / departments? A: Cross-departmental meetings are held with
all 28 city departments represented.
Keith: The topic of “Triple
Bottom Line” was raised in the presentation. With respect to this
concept, what ARE the effects of runoff abatement efforts on property
values? Is data available locally regarding this? A: No local data is
currently available, however data for this is available online for the
city of Philadelphia.
• GREEN ROOFS: MMSD is working on a green
roof guide; one statistic indicates green roofs prolong the life of
roofing materials from two to three times the expected life. • www.greenroofs.org • Jamie Staufenbeil is the rain barrel coordinator for MMSD
is willing to support TM Water Working Groups efforts to implement rain
water catchment strategies; MMSD does not need to “own” or influence
the efforts or “program”.
The following ideas and topics were offered by the attendees during the discussion and idea-sharing portion of the meeting:
The Washington Heights Neighborhood Association’s Green Committee is
planning a rain-barrel blitz in conjunction with Earth Day events 2011.
Ideas for how to record and document this event are welcome. • Regarding our efforts to reduce runoff and harvest rainwater – how can we create value in the eyes of our fellow citizens? •
Does MMSD have space it would be willing to use / share for storage of
the 275 and 150 gallon totes the Water Group is procuring? A: MMSD is
losing its current storage facility it uses for rain barrels. Efforts
are underway to secure a new location; once secured this discussion can
move forward. • How can we promote and market the installation of rain harvesting devices? •
A suggestion was made that we reevaluate our message to one that
reflects improved health of our water system is directly related to our
own behaviors. • Does MMSD partner with schools? • The UW Extension offers a booklet on Rain-gardens – available FREE to Wisconsin residents and Non-profits: http://learningstore.uwex.edu/Rain-Garde....ality-P373.aspx •
Suggestion was made to explore partnering with the Milwaukee Community
Service Corps – if not for labor then perhaps for supplies / fittings. •
What resources are available or need to be developed that can help
residents understand how their actions impact the watershed and
contribute to issues such as sewer backups? • Residents do not seem to be well-connected to our watersheds; how can we address this; close this disconnect? • Karen Sands’ abstract “Rain Barrels Truth or Consequences, available online: http://www.epa.gov/owow/NPS/natlstormwater03/32Sands.pdf • Would MMSD offer cost-sharing for equipment and / or cost of installs of totes? • The Water Group should seek contacts within UWM’s School of Freshwater Sciences. • More hands-on experience is desired by the Water Group in creating rain gardens •
MMSD holds an annual Plant Sale – featuring rain garden plants for HALF
PRICE. Look for details on MMSD’s website in April. Orders are placed