Beneath the Streets

The outlook for Metro Milwaukee's largest water and sewer infrastructure assets

May 2017


Video Summary

Our latest research finds that addressing the repair and replacement needs of sewer, water, and wastewater treatment assets owned by Milwaukee’s largest governments will require a substantial taxpayer and ratepayer commitment in the coming years.

Key findings:

  • The Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District’s capital assets largely are in good condition, but keeping them that way demands a healthy commitment from property taxpayers. Annual capital spending is projected to grow from $93 million to $128 million by 2021.
  • The age and condition of the City of Milwaukee’s sewers demands continuation of an ambitious lining and replacement schedule that will continue to put pressure on sewer and stormwater fees. Barring unforeseen major challenges, however, upcoming capital budgets should be manageable.
  • Milwaukee Water Works (MWW) must aggressively ramp up capital spending to address the condition of its aging water mains and replace its 76,000 lead service lines. Overall, MWW’s annual capital spending is projected to grow from $29 million to $46 million by 2020, which will place considerable demands on ratepayers.

Local Government Infrastructure Series

Picking Up the Pieces is the fifth and final installment of a series on infrastructure needs for Milwaukee’s city and county governments and the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District. A Fork in the Road? focused on local roads, bridges, and buses owned by Milwaukee County and the city of Milwaukee. Beneath the Streets focused on water, sewer, and wastewater treatment infrastructure owned by the city and MMSD. Cracks in the Foundation focused on city and county building repair and replacement needs. Delay of Game focused on Milwaukee County-owned parks, recreational, and cultural infrastructure.