Milwaukee Riverside Pump Station project wins engineering award

Posted in: Municipal, Transportation, Water

The Wisconsin Section ASCE Engineering Achievement Award was presented to Milwaukee Water Works and Mead & Hunt on September.

The Milwaukee Water Works Riverside Pump Station project received an engineering achievement award in Category A, projects with construction costs less than $2 million. The award was given to the City of Milwaukee by the Wisconsin Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers.

This was a great project and I was proud to lead the Mead & Hunt team working with our client, the City of Milwaukee. The Riverside Pump Station project was a unique engineering design, but I’d suggest a significant factor in its success was the collaborative inter-agency cooperation. The city proactively incorporated the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District’s Green Infrastructure goals into this project.

This stormwater improvement project addressed much more than just stormwater runoff issues. It also included reconstruction of a portion of a service road, removal of two inlet structures, construction of new bioretention swales and an overflow channel to the Milwaukee River. Security of the pump station site was also improved.

The Milwaukee Riverside Pump Station project is an award-winner because it is:


This project reduced pollutants to the Milwaukee River improving the environment for wildlife and providing cleaner water for the surrounding area.  A new concrete multi-use path along the river is, lined with butterfly attracting plants, creating a park-like feel for residents to bike or walk along the river.

By disconnecting the on-site storm sewers from the city’s combined sewer system, the new system will reduce the amount of stormwater entering the system by nearly 187,000 gallons. The water will instead be treated in bioretention basins before being discharged into the Milwaukee River

(l-r) Tony Fahres, City of Milwaukee; Peter Nilles, Milwaukee County and President of ASCE Wisconsin Section; and Jay Wheaton, Mead & Hunt
(l-r) Tony Fahres, City of Milwaukee; Peter Nilles, Milwaukee County and President of ASCE Wisconsin Section; and Jay Wheaton, Mead & Hunt


The proactive incorporation of Green Infrastructure will eliminate more than 450 pounds of sediment that would have entered the Milwaukee River each year. The bioretention basins achieved a total suspended solids (TSS) reduction of 45 percent, exceeding the city’s goal of 40 percent removal to provide cleaner water.

A portion of the service road was reconstructed and partially paved with porous asphalt. This improves drainage and increases the life of the roadway.

A riprap-lined overflow channel was constructed to direct overflow from the service road to the Milwaukee River. Designed with stone riprap over fabric material, it will help control the amount of debris that runs into the river.


Operation and maintenance costs were minimized by installing bioretention areas and the overflow channel.  A conservation easement with the MMSD allows for simple and cost-effective operations and maintenance now and in the future.

We used readily-available materials when constructing the bioretention areas. The engineered soil in the basins allows stormwater to be filtered naturally before entering the subsurface drainage system.

Aesthetically pleasing

Typically you don’t think of a pumping station, storm sewer and access road as beautiful, but this one is the exception. Consider the new vertical pivot gate at the entrance, a new walking path free of brush and debris, the flowers lining the overflow channel, and bioretention areas that blend with the existing topography.

As the project manager, I’m proud of my team’s work. As with every project, our goal is to exceed our client’s expectations. MMW wanted to reduce the risk of flooding at the pumping station, while providing an environmentally-sustainable method of controlling stormwater runoff with TSS reduction. I think we hit that one out of the park.

More information about this project.

Darrell Berry, PE, SE

About the Author

Darrell Berry, P.E., S.E., F.ASCE-Life, is senior manager with substantial project management and consulting engineering experience. He is skilled in developing and delivering successful projects within local, state and federal policies and procedures. Darrell’s background includes project management of transportation and special projects, and structural designs and inspections for highway and railroad bridges. He is well-known for his value engineering team leadership and facilitation skills, to improve the value of projects while maintaining functions, typically at a lower cost to the owner.

Read more posts by Darrell Berry, PE, SE

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