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Starms Early Childhood Center is a Milwaukee Public School serving over three hundred K3-K5 students on Milwaukee’s near north side. The school recently replaced 80% of its asphalt with green infrastructure through the Green Schools program, including a permeable rubberized play surface that allows water to pass through it. In addition, the play area is designed to connect students to local geography and watersheds with a visual representation of Lake Michigan and Milwaukee's three major rivers - the Milwaukee, the Menomonee, and the Kinnickinnic.
The project also removed unsafe playground equipment and replaced it with three new slides representing Milwaukee’s three major rivers, further enhancing students’ opportunities to understand their connection to local waterways. A bioswale - a green infrastructure strategy designed to capture stormwater, help it soak into the ground, and filter out pollutants - manages stormwater runoff from an adjacent parking lot. Porous asphalt, native landscaping, and tree plantings are also located within the schoolyard further helping to manage up to 43,000 gallons of stormwater where it falls each time it rains.
Starms was a part of MPS' first cohort group of four schools to work with the local nonprofit Reflo to develop conceptual project plans funded by the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District (MMSD). Plan development entails a one-year process working with the school and surrounding local community to remove asphalt and “green” their schoolyards. The Fund for Lake Michigan, the City of Milwaukee, and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation also contributed funding to this 2019 schoolyard redevelopment.
MMSD has been committed to green schoolyard redevelopments for many years as part of our stormwater management and resiliency goals. This work helps convert asphalt-paved schoolyards into green spaces and increase the community's exposure to and understanding of green infrastructure. This helps reduce the amount of stormwater runoff entering our sewer system and pollution entering our local waterways. Beyond benefiting MMSD’s sewer system and Lake Michigan, the green schoolyards provide a safe space for the students, their families, and the community to play and learn about our local watersheds. Every child deserves a place to play and learn that incorporates green space. Green spaces help improve the health and well-being of the community while also teaching our children the important ecological benefits provided by green infrastructure.
MMSD gives Green Luminary® awards to businesses, organizations, and communities that implement exceptional green infrastructure design projects in the MMSD service area that benefit our lakes and rivers, as well as our communities.
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.
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Rain gardens help reduce sewer overflows and water pollution by absorbing stormwater runoff from hard surfaces into the ground naturally. Learn how to plant a rain garden and help protect Lake Michigan.