Lake Michigan sunset

Water Quality


  Our Water Quality Protection Team is a group of specialized, scientific detectives that collect, monitor and track evidence for improving and protecting our rivers, Lake Michigan, and the Watersheds in MMSD's service area. They collect more than 150,000 water samples a year, analyzing more than 1 million individual data measurements from our waterways, water reclamation facilities and sewers. With one of the State of Wisconsin's most comprehensive water quality data bases for Lake Michigan and its rivers, MMSD continues to test, monitor and document area waterways to:
  • Provide early warning detection of wastewater and industrial pollution, as well as, illegal dumping.
  • Assess the benefits and impacts to area waterways from the investment of billions of dollars in wastewater treatment, storage and sewer system improvements.
  • Help MMSD and area leaders decide what else is needed to cost effectively protect area rivers and Lake Michigan.

MMSD's surface water quality monitoring program started in 1979. Continued tracking of water quality, along with improvements to the District's wastewater treatment system and stream restoration activities, will help ensure a healthy aquatic environment and will help retain the beneficial uses of Lake Michigan and Milwaukee-area waterways to the public.


The team operates through five working groups:

Central Laboratory Group: Scientific professionals, technicians, chemists and helpers who analyze samples and report findings from the test results.

Industrial Waste Pretreatment Group: Team members include Industrial Waste Engineers who monitor and enforce point source pollution programs, including Industrial Waste Pretreatment, Mercury Reduction, and Household Hazardous Waste.

Systems Monitoring/Conveyance Group: This group of analysts review, organize, monitor and analyze data generated from monitoring and sampling of the conveyance systems, groundwater, and stormwater programs. They are also responsible for regulatory reporting.

Water Quality Research Group: Limnologists and water resource specialists who sample, monitor, analyze and report on the water quality in local watersheds.

Field Monitoring Group: Monitoring technicians and specialists engaged in sample and data collection, monitoring, and downloading data into the District's databases. This group provides support to Industrial Waste Engineers, Conveyance, Water Quality Research groups and Technical Services construction programs.

 Take a ride on our research vessel, the Pelagos, as the captain and crew show you how they work together to protect our rivers and Lake Michigan.