These tours definitely brought me closer to understanding the inner workings of a major city’s waterworks.

I always dreamed of visiting Jones Island. It has actually been on my bucket list for decades.

I wish I could say Jones Island is a tropical island in the Dutch West Indies. Instead, it’s a largely concrete campus (and original ship-building site) that’s home to the Jones Island Water Reclamation Facility just off the shore of Lake Michigan in Milwaukee. It may not be a beachfront getaway, but at least it has a view of the water.

A few weeks ago, I crossed Jones Island off my bucket list as I toured the 91-year-old facility, a partnership between Veolia North America and the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District (MMSD). Why was touring a wastewater treatment plant on my bucket list? As a native Milwaukeean, I had driven across the Hoan Bridge on the city’s south side for decades, always wondering about the concrete ghost town down below. It seemed dark, mysterious and somewhat dangerous.

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