Milwaukee Downspout Disconnection Program
Did you receive a letter about disconnecting your downspouts?
That means that one (1) or more of your downspouts may meet the criteria for disconnecting from the combined sewer system. To find out the next steps for the program please read the letter carefully, fill out the Right of Entry form and submit it back to us.
There are three ways to submit your Right of Entry form:
1. Mail the form to: City of Milwaukee Environmental Engineering 841 North Broadway, Room 820 Milwaukee, WI 53202
2. Email the form to: firstname.lastname@example.org
3. Fax the form to 414-286-2010
Thank you to everyone who is participating in the Downspout Disconnection Program. The Department of Public Works (DPW) is accepting and processing temporary right of entry forms and encourage you to send yours in.
After the Right of Entry form is submitted, The Department of Neighborhood Services will contact you in 4-6 weeks to set up a pre-inspection of the downspouts on the property. No disconnection work should be performed until after the pre-inspection. If you have more questions please check out the Program Documents on the right side of this webpage.
Once the City receives your temporary right of entry form, the Department of Neighborhood Services (DNS) will conduct a pre-inspection. The City has received over 8,000 forms already and is working to complete all pre-inspections while weather permits. A door hanger will be left on the front door after the pre-inspection is complete informing you whether the downspouts can be disconnected. Some homes are not eligible to be disconnected based on property constraints such as driveways, sidewalks or proximity of neighboring properties. If your home's downspouts can not be disconnected, the door hanger will inform you that no further action is needed and your participation in the program is complete
A contractor hired by the City has started disconnections at properties that requested a contractor to complete the work. This work will continue while weather permits. To date, there are approximately 1,000 properties ready to be disconnected by the contractor. On Mondays, the contractor will notify home owners in the area where disconnection work will take place and complete the disconnections in the area the same week. It is anticipated that all 1,000 properties will be disconnected through the Winter months.
For home owners that elected to do the work themselves, look for the door hanger from the inspector indicating it is safe to disconnect. A zip tie will be placed on all the downspouts that can safely be disconnected. After the work is complete, home owners should contact the inspector listed on the door hanger to schedule a post-inspection. After the post-inspection verifies that the work is done properly, the gift card selected on the temporary right of entry form will be mailed to the home owner.
Another letter and sign up form will be sent out in late winter 2020 to those in the combined sewer service area that did not send in a form in 2019. We ask that residents wait for this letter to get signed up for pre-inspection and disconnection in 2020. It is best that everyone who gets a letter respond with the form even if they think the downspouts cannot be disconnected and let the inspectors mark the property as ineligible.
Why Downspout Disconnection is Important?
Like many cities, the older portions of the City of Milwaukee’s sewer system carry both rain water, also known as clear water, and sanitary sewage in a combined sewer system to be treated by the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District's (MMSD) wastewater treatment plant. A large source of clear water within the combined sewer is from rain that falls on your roof and is collected by downspouts that are directly connected to the sewer system. During rainstorms, this additional clear water can overwhelm sewer pipes and MMSD's treatment plant which can lead to street flooding, basement sewage backups, and sewage overflows directly into our neighboring waterways.
In an effort to reduce the amount of clear water that enters the combined sewer system during rain events, the MMSD amended their Rules and Regulations to require the disconnection of downspouts at residential properties of four units or less in the combined sewer service area as long as the disconnections comply with the criteria set forth in the City’s plumbing code and MMSD’s Rules and Regulations. In order to comply with these rule changes, the City of Milwaukee has begun the implementation of the Downspout Disconnection Program.
Downspout disconnection involves cutting the downspout, attaching an elbow and extension to direct the stormwater flow away from the house onto a grassy area and capping the standpipe.
The Downspout Disconnection Program only applies to properties within the Combined Sewer Area with downspouts that are connected to the combined sewer system and that meet criteria for disconnection.