Veolia-Operated Jones Island Water Reclamation Facility Reaches 20,000 Visitor Milestone

Milwaukee’s most unlikely tourist destination plays a critical role in protecting Lake Michigan and public education

  • Doors Open 1

    Milwaukee’s Jones Island Water Reclamation facility operates around the clock to treat wastewater and helps protect the public health of 1.1 million people in the Milwaukee area.

  • Doors Open 2

    Over 2100 visitors toured the Jones Island Water Reclamation Facility via motorcoach as part of Doors Open Milwaukee. The annual event, which has experienced double-digit growth since its inaugural year in 2011, is hosted by Veolia and partner MMSD.

  • Doors Open 3

    Before boarding busses, Doors Open visitors walked the giant "Wastewater Maze" created by an artist hired by Veolia’s community relations team, which afforded them an up-close view of the wastewater treatment process.

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    As part of the Hard Hat tour conducted by Veolia and local volunteers, Doors Open visitors view the process of Milorganite-in-the-making, the signature fertilizer produced as a by-product of the wastewater treatment process since 1926.

MILWAUKEE, Sept. 21, 2015 – Veolia North America (Veolia), the world’s leading provider of environmental solutions and optimized resource management, today announced that it has reached a milestone of hosting 20,000 visitors at the Jones Island Water Reclamation Facility, which Veolia manages and operates as part of its private-public partnership with the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District (MMSD). The milestone was surpassed after over 2,100 visitors toured the Jones Island facility on Saturday, September 19, 2015 during the annual Doors Open Milwaukee event.
Situated on the shore of Lake Michigan, the Jones Island Water Reclamation Facility presents a unique backdrop for Historic Milwaukee’s Doors Open tour and for the many visitors who have toured the facility over the years to learn about the importance of cleaning wastewater before releasing it back into the natural environment. In continuous operation since 1926, the Jones Island facility was designated a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark in 1974 by the American Society of Civil Engineers in recognition for its innovations in providing high-quality wastewater treatment. Jones Island was also one of the first facilities in the world to produce a fertilizer as the by-product of the water reclamation process: Milorganite®. 
Doors Open is not the only time that Veolia provides tours, which are an integral element of the community outreach effort the company is charged with executing on a daily basis. Since Veolia started operating the Jones Island facility seven years ago, more than 20,000 visitors have toured the wastewater facility from over 22 different countries.
“Veolia is committed to providing educational tools and resources that help de-mystify the wastewater treatment side of the water cycle, so achieving this 20,000 visitor milestone mark is one that we certainly celebrate,” said John Wood, Senior Vice President of Operations, Municipal & Commercial business of Veolia North America. “It is fitting that we hit this milestone during the annual Doors Open event, which has seen our visitor numbers grow each year starting at 400 the first year and this year reaching more than 2,000 visitors in a single day. Beyond learning the basics of the wastewater treatment process, we hope that all of our visitors gain an appreciation of how the facility helps protect the environment and public health, along with a better appreciation of how they can also protect Lake Michigan.”
The private-public partnership between Veolia and MMSD is the nation’s largest wastewater partnership serving 1.1 million people in 28 municipalities in southeastern Wisconsin. Capable of treating more than 300 million gallons of wastewater a day, the facility is critical to protecting Lake Michigan and the surrounding environment. While supporting MMSD’s commitment to the highest standards of quality and ensuring the District’s environmental compliance record, the partnership with Veolia has significantly improved overall operational efficiencies, which in turn is expected to save the MMSD and ratepayers $35 million over the contract term
“The tour program here at Jones Island is one of the cornerstones of our outreach program,” said Steve Jacquart, Intergovernmental Coordinator of Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District (MMSD). “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.”
Over the course of the partnership, MMSD and Veolia have been recognized through prestigious honors including annual Platinum Awards from the National Association of Clean Water Agencies as well as the Distinguished Service Award from the National Council for Public-Private Partnerships. In addition, Veolia’s commitment to advancing water innovation includes a $1.5 million R&D program to support Great Lakes clean water initiatives and partnerships with the Milwaukee Water Council and the state of Wisconsin to bring pioneering ideas to the Milwaukee area.