Successful completion of Milwaukee tunnel excavation brings wastewater district closer to goals

May 25, 2004
Black & Veatch announced that excavation of the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District's (MMSD) Northwest Side Relief Sewer tunnel was recently completed safely, on schedule and within budget.

Black & Veatch-designed tunnel will help the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District prevent sewer overflows and protect area water quality

Milwaukee, Wis., May 25, 2004 -- Black & Veatch announced that excavation of the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District's (MMSD) Northwest Side Relief Sewer tunnel was recently completed safely, on schedule and within budget. When the 7.1-mile-long, 20-foot-diameter sewer tunnel has been lined with concrete and begins to store wet weather flows in late 2005, it will help protect local rivers and Lake Michigan by reducing wet weather-induced sewer overflows.

Black & Veatch provided design services and is providing ongoing construction support services for the deep tunnel, which is the highest priority in MMSD's Overflow Reduction Plan and the largest sewer project undertaken by the district since the 1980s. The Northwest Side Relief Sewer was designed to store 88 million gallons of wastewater during wet weather events, when Milwaukee's Jones Island wastewater treatment plant is at full capacity. It will increase system storage capacity by 22 percent.

"The new sewer tunnel will help reduce sewer system overflows when storms strike," said MMSD Executive Director Kevin Shafer. "The smooth progression and successful completion of the tunnel excavation brings us much closer to our goals."

A computer- and laser-guided tunnel boring machine enabled the J.F. Shea construction crew to excavate through Racine and Waukesha formation dolomite bedrock at depths of 120 to 165 feet below ground. Tunnel projects are frequently fraught with construction claims because of unknown conditions, variables and potential risks in underground construction. However, diligently prepared geotechnical report and contract documents helped the contractors submit accurate and competitive bids and helped the owner effectively and equitably manage the risks.

"The geotechnical baseline report and contract documents were some of the best we've seen in a long time," said MMSD Conveyance Section Manager Roger Maurer.

Many cities and utilities view tunneling as a solution to regulatory requirements in the combined sewer overflow (CSO) and sanitary sewer overflow (SSO) arenas. Aging and undersized sewer systems can overflow during storm events, resulting in detrimental runoff to local waterways. Tunneling can provide diversion, transportation and storage during such events and bring utilities into regulatory compliance.

Black & Veatch recently announced the formation of a tunneling and underground engineering group to more effectively deliver specialized tunneling and geo-engineering services to water and wastewater clients.

About Black & Veatch

Black & Veatch Corporation is a leading global engineering, consulting and construction company specializing in infrastructure development in the fields of energy, water and information. Founded in 1915, Black & Veatch serves its clients with conceptual and preliminary engineering services, engineering design, procurement, construction, financial management, asset management, information technology, environmental, security design and consulting, and management consulting services.

The Water Sector provides innovative, technology-based solutions to utilities, governments and industries worldwide. Local project managers work with a global team of water and wastewater treatment process experts to address site-specific challenges through a broad range of consulting, study, planning, design, design-build and construction management services.

The employee-owned company has more than 90 offices worldwide. Black & Veatch is ranked on the Forbes "500 Largest Private Companies in the United States" listing for 2003. The company's Web site address is

About MMSD

The Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District is a state-chartered government agency providing wastewater treatment and conveyance as well as flood management services to 1.1 million residents in 28 municipalities. The district's 420-square-mile service area encompasses most of Milwaukee County and 10 municipalities in the surrounding counties of Ozaukee, Washington, Waukesha and Racine.

Wastewater is conveyed to the Jones Island and South Shore wastewater treatment plants by a 310-mile system of intercepting and main sewers. The two treatment facilities collect and treat more than 200 million gallons of wastewater each day, returning clean, clear water to Lake Michigan. The MMSD also operates 19.4 miles of storage tunnels ranging in size from 17 to 32 feet in diameter. The district's Web site address is

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