Milwaukee, Wis.

Milwaukee Case Study

North America's largest wastewater partnership has achieved new levels of compliance, service, communication and innovation and offers a model for the Great Lakes region.


With a rich history of innovation in biosolids management and wastewater treatment, the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District (MMSD) sought a partner to facilitate new asset management practices and serve as a technical and operational provider - and one that shared its overarching commitment to the highest standards of quality The District also wanted to ensure its environmental compliance record while seeking potential cost savings.


Veolia North America’s proposal touched on many different facets, including technical innovations, community involvement and activities to bolster Small/Women/Minority Business Enterprise (SWMBE) activity. Plans also included a state-of-the-art asset management program based on the EPA's Asset Management Process, as well as collaborative process control and work plans aimed at controlling potential wet-weather overflows. In 2008, MMSD began a 10-year, $400 million partnership agreement with Veolia focused on MMSD's wastewater, Deep Tunnel and biosolids operations.


  • Nation's largest wastewater partnership serving 1.1 million in 28 municipalities.
  • Scope includes a 411-square-mile service area with a 320-mile system of interceptor and main
    sewers and a 26.5-mile stormwater system, two wastewater treatment facilities - a 250-MGD activated sludge wastewater treatment plant and the 300-MGD Jones Island wastewater treatment plant, the oldest operating activated sludge treatment plant in the U.S. (a combined peak capacity of 630 million gallons) and management of a 500-million gallon Deep Tunnel system.
  • ​Oversee production of 41,500 dtpy of MMSD's renowned Milorganite® biosolids product.


  • The contract is expected to save the MMSD and ratepayers $35 million over the contract term.
  • The partnership conducted the first-ever Water Carbon Footprint Study to measure the environmental impact of carbon, water and costs, and the Water Impact Index that establishes the impact of human activity on water resources. 
  • Veolia is working with our Environmental Services sister company to harvest nearby landfill waste-gases to fuel the Milorganite® dryers.
  • After a successful first year of operation, District and Veolia personnel celebrated environmental compliance despite a highly active wet weather season.
  • Veolia announced a $1.5million R&D program to support Great Lakes clean water initiatives, including research into the impact of pharmaceuticals on area watersheds, as well as potential wastewater treatment process improvements.
  • Performance throughout a complex transition was excellent, including proactive management practices and compliance with NPDES permits.
  • Achieved smooth transition of approximately 200 union and non-union employees.
  • Proactive management reduced energy costs, in spite of surges in natural gas costs.
  • Comprehensive training programs resulted in solid improvements in employee safety.
  • SWMBE purchases were 16 percent above the 2008 goal of 20 percent.
  • Community relations involvement includes conducting plant tours for an average of 2,000 visitors annually.
  • Introduced Veolia’s Water Box program into area elementary schools to enhance students' environmental awareness.
  • ​The excellence of the partnership is recognized through prestigious honors, including: U.S. Water Prize from the Clean Water Alliance; Platinum Awards from the National Association of Clean Water Agencies; Distinguished Service Award from the National Council for Public-Private Partnerships.