Friday, August 31, 2007

Milwaukee Deep Tunnel Debate: Commentaries Abound

A friend called from Madison the other day looking for the five-minute short course on our Deep Tunnel.

Forty-five minutes later, the most useful thing I had done is to point him towards the Journal Sentinel's recent Sunday deep tunnel editorial and paired op-ed by Lynn Broaddus, environmental activist and Executive Director of Friends of Milwaukee's Rivers.

I was out of town for part of that week, but in reconstructing the chronology, it looks like Milwaukee Magazine editor Bruce Murphy started this latest round of commentary.

I guess rightist talkers Mark Belling and Charlie Sykes jumped in, as they have for years.

Charlie regularly smears the MMSD by awarding faux weekly "Deep Tunnel" awards to politicians and groups he says are "full of it," complete with oh-so-cute toilet flushing sound effects).

But the talkers apparently ranted about the MMSD because the newspaper's editorial chastised some radio talkers for spreading misinformation about the agency. (Imagine that!)

I didn't hear any of the radio, but Belling has dealt with MMSD twice in recent Waukesha Freeman columns, and Bill Christofferson, blogging as Xoff at, pulled alot of the threads together.

Read those links, and one more later in this posting, and you'll be done with the short course.

My take: the Deep Tunnel ain't perfect, but it's a vast improvement from the old days.

And the Deep Tunnel didn't get credit for the huge reduction in annual overflows it achieved.

The MMSD is spending heavily to improve the system. It needs to do more, and it benefits from media criticism, organizations' scrutiny, vigorous oversight and public input.

It also should be praised for its very active conservation activities, ranging from big-picture riverbank and watershed protections to rain garden promotion and rain barrel distributions.

Bloviating by rightwing talkers, however, adds nothing constructive.

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