Milwaukee wastewater plant becomes unlikely tourist attraction
Milwaukee's Jones Island Water Reclamation Facility hit the milestone of hosting 20,000 visitors last weekend during an annual tour that offers a practical observation of the wastewater treatment process and the significant role the facility plays in protecting the environment and public health.
During the Sept. 22 Historic Milwaukee’s Doors Open tour, more than 2,000 visitors reviewed the reclamation facility, which is managed through a public-private partnership with Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District and environment solutions company Veolia North America. The facility has been in operation since 1926 and was designated as a National Historic Civil Engineering landmark in 1974 by the Society Civil Engineers, according to a Veolia spokesperson.
“The tour program here at Jones Island is one of the cornerstones of our outreach program,” Steve Jacquart, intergovernmental coordinator of Milwaukee for MMSD, said in a written statement. “The annual Doors Open event is yet one more way to showcase our high standards for water reclamation at the Jones Island Water Reclamation Facility. It is my favorite day of the year, when visitors are able to see just how important the facility is for maintaining public health while learning something new about modern wastewater treatment processes.”
Veolia began operating the facility seven years ago, according to a Veolia media release. The public-private partnership between MMSD and Veolia is the nation’s largest wastewater partnership with the system serving 1.1 million people in 28 municipalities in the southeastern region of Wisconsin. The facility, which opened seven years ago, is capable of treating more than 300 million gallons of wastewater a day and provides protection to Lake Michigan and the surrounding environment. The partnership, honored with a National Association of Clean Water Agencies Platinum Award, has provided improved operational efficiencies and, eventually, will offer savings of $35 million to MMSD and taxpayers.
Doors Open has been an integral part of providing community outreach to visitors from 22 countries, John Wood, senior vice president of operations, municipal & commercial business of Veolia North America, said in a statement. The company also offers other educational tours throughout the year.
“Veolia is committed to providing educational tools and resources that help demystify the wastewater treatment side of the water cycle, so achieving this 20,000-visitor milestone mark is one that we certainly celebrate,” Woods said.