This Just In ...

Kevin Fischer is a veteran broadcaster, the recipient of over 150 major journalism awards from the Milwaukee Press Club, the Wisconsin Associated Press, the Northwest Broadcast News Association, the Wisconsin Bar Association, and others. He has been seen and heard on Milwaukee TV and radio stations for over three decades. A longtime aide to state Senate Republicans in the Wisconsin Legislature, Kevin can be seen offering his views on the news on the public affairs program, "InterCHANGE," on Milwaukee Public Television Channel 10, and heard filling in on Newstalk 1130 WISN. He lives with his wife, Jennifer, and their lovely young daughter, Kyla Audrey, in Franklin.

MJS readers get it, MJS doesn't on sewer problems

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Editorial Board never ceases to demonstrate out completely out of touch they are with reality.

Keep in mind that the MMSD continuously, when we get a couple of inches of rain, dumps millions and millions of crapola into our greatest natural resource, Lake Michigan. No one seems to care, including hypocritical enviros and the Journal Sentinel editorial writers who put up a gem last week, blasting a Michigan company for allowing oil to spill into the Kalamazoo River.
The Journal Sentinel editorial writers went into hysteria:

A million-gallon oil spill has fouled the Kalamazoo River and may threaten Lake Michigan. The oil must not be allowed into the lake.

In a heartbreakingly familiar scene, workers are slogging into swollen waters to rescue wildlife and skim oil after a massive spill.

Only this time it's happening in Michigan, and this time the oil threatens not the Gulf of Mexico, but Lake Michigan. The oil must not be allowed into the lake. Federal and state officials should do everything they can to see to that.

The oil - about 1 million gallons of it - leaked from a pipeline owned by Enbridge Energy Partners before the breach was discovered and the pipeline shut down on Monday, federal officials say.”

The Journal Sentinel do-gooders then ripped the company’s past violations and argued it must be held accountable.

“But if we've learned anything from the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, it's that vigilance is virtue. Regulations must be tough and enforced. Companies must understand their responsibility. We urge officials to examine both the company's actions and inspection regimens. But first, stop the spill and protect the lake.”

That’s right. Turn blue in the face, stomp your feet over a corporation sending oil into a waterway, but turn your back on a government agency, i.e. the MMSD dumping millions of gallons of ***** into Lake Michigan. No call for the DNR to hold the MMSD accountable. But let a private firm do the same….GASP!!!!….then suddenly the editorial writers in their ivory tower take notice.

Is it any wonder their circulation is failing miserably? At the corner of 4th and State, they just don’t get it.

For heaven’s sake, the newspaper’s readers are far more intelligent. As the editorial writers fiddle while Milwaukee turns Lake Michigan into a toilet, from the “Your Opinions” section of the MJS:


Separate the sewers

The Journal Sentinel published two letters July 22 requesting that the Metropolitan Milwaukee Sewerage District separate storm and sanitary sewers. Here is another.

As a retired MMSD engineer, there was common talk in the MMSD engineering hallway that the deep tunnel was a huge mistake by Mayor Henry Maier to copy Chicago's sewer solution, for a different reason. Maier's idea was to throw the cost of court-ordered fixes to the suburbs through MMSD. If he had just separated the storm and sanitary on the old north side of Milwaukee, it would have cost less than the deep tunnel, and he would've had all new streets in the bargain.

Now comes the big storm. There will never be enough capacity in more tunnels to store storms until the treatment plants can handle the combined flow. The only way is to separate storm and sanitary sewers and allow storm water to go to natural streams and rivers and eventually to Lake Michigan. It will take a courageous leader to say this.

Shorewood also has combined sewers, but it's on its own.

Leigh Bryant Zarse
Retired MMSD engineer



Weak leadership led to a weak system

Horrific sewage overflows and basement backups in Milwaukee and Shorewood should prompt a look at how the current combined sewer/deep tunnel system was decided.

As primary drafter in 1979 of a report on this issue for the City of Milwaukee Legislative Reference Bureau, I recall the debate. Storm and sanitary sewer separation made sense: Capital and operating costs were 30% less than the deep tunnel option (then called conveyance-storage-treatment, or CST) and laying a new sanitary sewer next to the old storm pipe seemed to largely address seepage and contaminant issues.

But political fears of repercussions from residents, because streets would be disrupted and torn up for many years to lay down new sewers in the 27-square-mile combined sewer area, carried the day. That, plus concerns individual homeowners might be assessed, and that particulate matter from storm runoff might cause as much pollution as sanitary sewer overflow (despite fecal coliform discharge reductions) killed this reasonable option.

Instead, an expensive deep tunnel system was constructed that has never handled heavy rainfalls as originally promised. Had decision-makers gone with the tougher political choice of sewer separation, the problem may have been resolved at less expense, although admittedly some inconvenience, before the turn of the new century.

Terrence Cooley



Find a better way

With record rainfalls and frequent sewer backups in recent weeks, the Metropolitan Milwaukee Sewerage District's decision to spend $7 million addressing backups should be welcome news. But reading past the headline, we learn that rather than dealing with the cause of the problem - too much rainwater getting into the sanitary sewers - the money is being spent on increasing its capacity to dump untreated waste out of the sewers and into the rivers (and ultimately Lake Michigan, where our drinking water comes from).

Wouldn't the money be better spent developing ways to prevent the need for such overflows in the first place, such as fixing illegal connections to the sanitary sewers, repairing the decaying pipes that allow massive amounts of rainwater infiltration or installing micro detention systems to control the influx of stormwater into the sanitary sewers?

Seven million dollars may not be enough to provide a definitive solution to all of our sewerage problems - is it time to work on separating the storm and sanitary sewers? - but it ought to be able to do more than buy a dirty Band-Aid.

Many years ago, I told my 5-year-old that I didn't want to see his things all piled up on the floor, so he spread them out, instead. Surely MMSD can come up with a better solution to sewer backups than spreading out the mess even more.

Marc H. Gorelick


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