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Blue Notes by Kevin Shafer - It Takes A Village: Green Infrastructure in Greater Milwaukee

02/18/21 08:00:am
Blue Notes Newsletter from Kevin Shafer


When it comes to implementing a watershed-wide green infrastructure program, it truly does “take a village” to realize success.

A recent story in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel highlights green infrastructure’s importance to the region’s water environment and the economic development in Milwaukee.  The story provides an in-depth discussion about work being performed with the Milwaukee Public Schools to green up our schools and a very innovative project to build green infrastructure under an elevated freeway.

These projects and many more are tremendous.  Having been initiated over 20 years ago, we are just starting to realize the importance of green infrastructure to our daily existence.  Climate change, flooding, and beach closings are all concerns that have been driving this point home.  This story highlights another benefit, economic development.

From the beginning, the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District (MMSD) has been the driving force behind green infrastructure in the greater Milwaukee region; however, for this work to be successful, it takes many partners to form the “Village”. Local governments, the State of Wisconsin, school districts, nongovernmental organizations, foundations, neighborhood groups, and individual property owners are all critical to this endeavor.  Without these partners, green infrastructure would still be ridiculed and laughed at, as it was when MMSD started this work.

I want to thank the village – all those partners who collaborate, reach out, and build this critical infrastructure; all those partners who step up and allow green infrastructure to be built on their property; all the partners who help maintain this infrastructure; and all those individuals who are willing to work together to take simple acts and leave this region better than we found it.

It has taken a village to get to this point and we must continue.

Be Safe! Be Understanding! Be Kind!

Kevin L. Shafer, P.E.
Executive Director - Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District 

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green roof on business

Green Infrastructure

Green infrastructure captures, absorbs or stores rain and melting snow, taking on numerous shapes and sizes from 55-gallon rain barrels to trees and porous pavers for parking lots, driveways and sidewalks. You can see green roofs on buildings or bioswales along city streets.

Green Luminary® Recipients

A Green Luminary® helps protect our rivers and Lake Michigan by adopting practices that harvest rainfall for other uses, or mimic nature, by helping it soak into the ground to reduce water pollution. View previous Green Luminary® ​​​​​award winners from the MMSD service area.

Fresh Coast Guardians Resource Center

Fresh Coast Guardians

Are you a homeowner, organization, or business looking for help on installing green infrastructure? Contact the Fresh Coast Guardians Resource Center to get started today.