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Stormwater trees help soak rainwater into the ground and hold it on their leaves and branches until it evaporates. Stormwater trees can be used in conjunction with engineered soils and other types of green infrastructure and work best to help manage water when they’re mature (and so are not a quick fix to stormwater issues). Stormwater trees also act as ‘carbon sinks’ which means they soak up carbon dioxide, one of the main gasses that contribute to climate change. To learn more about how trees can help manage water in your landscapes and in our communities read this article by horticulturist and arborist, Melinda Myers.
Visit Fresh Coast Guardians for stormwater tree installation and care information.
With our climate changing, Milwaukee can expect more intense rain, bigger storms, and changes in temperature. With intense rain, all the house, street, and sidewalk runoff can overwhelm our sewer system. Stormwater trees are part of Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District’s (MMSD) green infrastructure solutions to managing rainwater and improving water quality in our urban waterways.
In 2020 and 2021, over 400 trees were planted in a 2-mile square area on the northwest side of Milwaukee with an additional 100 trees anticipated to be planted in 2021 as part of the “Improving Our Neighborhood One Tree At A Time” project. These trees can soak up over 255,540 gallons of stormwater in any given storm and help improve air quality by removing 4.58 million pounds of carbon dioxide every year (the gas that causes climate change).
The “Improving Our Neighborhood One Tree At A Time” program increases community resilience through improved tree canopies. This program goes beyond a traditional planting program and targets both public and private properties in a socially and economically vulnerable community (85% minorities with 33% of residents living at or below the federal poverty line).
This program gave neighbors the ability to drive decisions on community investments. Through robust bilateral communication, neighbors learned the importance of trees, the impact of climate change on our region, and used their voices to shape their neighborhood. This program directly engaged over 300 residents in workshops, tree hikes, and community meetings. The residents decided what trees to plant, what educational information should accompany the new trees in public spaces, and committed to individual behavior changes to improve our waterways.
To support individual behavior change, residents that participated in the program through events and workshops were able to receive a free tree and/or rain barrel for their home. 60 rain barrels and 49 trees were given away to neighbors.
The “Improving Our Neighborhood One Tree At A Time” project received a National Environmental Achievement Award from the National Association of Clean Water Agencies, which recognizes public agencies for their outstanding efforts under the Operations and Environmental Performance category. The project also won an International Gold Leaf Award through the Wisconsin Arborist Association.
Partnering with MMSD, was the City of Milwaukee Forestry Division, Milwaukee Plays, Housing Authority of the City of Milwaukee, Milwaukee's Choice Neighborhood Initiative, and Havenswoods Neighborhood Partnership. This project was funded in part by the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and U.S. Forest Service. For more information about this project please contact us.
Rain gardens are gardens that are watered by collected or pooled stormwater runoff, slowly infiltrating it into the ground along root pathways.
Get FREE water by the barrel from your roof and use it when it’s dry outside to use in your landscape. Rain barrels help keep excess water out of the sewer system and help reduce water pollution.
Get alerted when to use less water in your home during weather events to help prevent basement backups and sewer overflows.