Share This

WaterNow 2021 Emerging Leader Award: MMSD's Breanne Plier

03/29/21 08:00:am
Emerging Leader Award by WaterNow


WaterNow has announced the 2021 Impact and Emerging Leader Award Winners. These awards recognize local water leaders working to accelerate innovative, climate-resilient, affordable, and equitable water solutions in their community.

The Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District's (MMSD) Sustainability Manager, Breanne Plier, has been awarded the 2021 Emerging Leader Award!

Breanne Plier is a certified planner who specializes in program development and management, grant writing, and community engagement. Her educational background centers on urban planning, community sustainability, and natural resource management. She received her Bachelor’s degree in natural resource management and Community Sustainability from the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh. She earned her Master’s degree in urban planning from the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee in 2014, and in 2015 earned her AICP certification from the American Institute of Certified Planners. She has over 10 years of experience developing and managing green infrastructure programs and developed several of the MMSD green infrastructure programs. She has a 13-year history with the MMSD, where she started as an intern and rose through the ranks to become the Manager of Sustainability in 2018. In 2020, she became the project manager of a groundbreaking public-partnership to install green infrastructure within the MMSD service area. 

Breanne created the Fresh Coast Protection Program (FCPP) to scale up funding for green stormwater infrastructure (GSI) projects, making the Milwaukee region more resilient in the face of increasingly severe storms. She is simultaneously generating workforce development opportunities in her community through GSI implementation.

MMSD's Bre Plier 2021 Impact and Emerging Leader Award

Photo Credit: Michael McLoone Photography

Please join WaterNow to celebrate these emerging leaders at the Tap into Resilience Summit on Wednesday, April 7, 2021.

What is the Fresh Coast Protection Program?

The FCPP is a 3-year community-based partnership (CBP).  The FCPP is intended to help MMSD ramp up green infrastructure (GI) implementation to meet MMSD’s 2035 Vision goal of capturing the first half-inch of rainfall across impervious surfaces within MMSD’s Service Area.  Between 2020 and 2022, MMSD along with our partner Corvias will plan, design, bid, and build nearly 8.5 million gallons of stormwater capture capacity with GI. The GI projects are expected to be built in both the separate and combined sewer areas. The combined sewer area is found in older parts of the City of Milwaukee and the Village of Shorewood. In this area, during heavy rains the sanitary sewage and stormwater both feed into the same sewer pipes, sometimes leading to sewer overflows and basement back-ups.

MMSD has a long history of providing funding for GI to public and private partners. Increasing numbers of intense rain events and the incorporation of GI into MMSD’s permit have pushed MMSD to do more to be resilient in the face of climate change.  The FCPP will push beyond the scope of previous GI programs to better direct where GI is placed (to maximize benefits), how it is designed, and how it is constructed. This will help MMSD find efficiencies in achieving its GI goals. Through its team of Delivery Partners (local planning, engineering firms, and contractors) Corvias identifies project locations which are reviewed with MMSD to provide critical feedback, acceptance or rejection of projects. Quality control measures area incorporated such as minimum design standards and third-party project certification which are in place to ensure that projects are well built and achieve the expected stormwater detention capacity. Additionally, the financial risk is transferred to the private partner (Corvias) to provide upfront financing for design and construction.

The program has the following goals:

  • Make GI a more affordable alternative to grey infrastructure

  • Reduce overflow volume and regional flooding

  • Build local GI capacity and participation in the Milwaukee region

Overall, the program has the following objectives:

  • Help MMSD to achieve compliance with MMSD’s Wisconsin Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (WPDES) permit
  • Help MMSD’s participating municipalities meet Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) permit requirements
  • Reduce the cost per gallon of GI storage
  • Attain a goal of certified small, women, minority, and veteran-owned Business Enterprises (SWMBE) of 25 percent or higher
  • Partner with local workforce development programs
  • Provide mentoring of emerging businesses
  • Identify non-traditional funding sources that can be leveraged

The FCPP also gives additional focus on building a more robust consulting and construction industry around GI by creating a Mentor Protégé program to build GI skills and experience.  Furthermore, the FCPP has set higher goals for small, women, minority, and veteran-owned business enterprise (SWMBE) participation; the current goal across FCPP activities is 25% participation. Lastly, the FCPP looks to integrate community and stakeholder engagement to build awareness of GI projects to be completed by the partnership to obtain contractor participation and community support for the program.

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.