How to Develop a Watershed-based Partnership

The City of Milwaukee?s Common Council has recently declared South 6th Street between West Howard Avenue and West College Avenue the first ?Green Corridor? in the state of Wisconsin. The declaration comes after three years of continuous work by American Rivers and its partners, with over 16 acres of stormwater retrofits across the vast expanse of impervious surface in the Wilson Park Creek subwatershed.

Modeling was done to research the cumulative impact on both flood flows and water quality, based on implementation of stormwater management practices in the watershed.? General Mills, Reinders, Lindner Logistics and Spancrete were a few of the businesses that were champions for reducing flooding. By implementing green infrastructure, an estimated 10-acre parcel could save $15,240 in stormwater charges over the course of one year.?

The designation confers a physical place and continuous process to achieve common sustainability goals that improve environmental performance, attracts environmentally sensitive business development, raises sustainability public awareness and supports cutting edge regional planning. The designation also recognizes the coordinated efforts and concentrated energy taking place within the watershed to showcase a range of green technology and innovation. The activities focused on South 6th Street demonstrate successful collaboration among the ?Green Corridor Steering Council.?

The process to transform South 6th Street into the Green Corridor is a locally led community, business and NGO partnership directed by the Energy Exchange, American Rivers, Gateway to Milwaukee and the Garden District Neighborhood Association with broad government support from the City of Milwaukee, Milwaukee County, Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District and Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Other stakeholders include Keep Greater Milwaukee Beautiful, University of Wisconsin Milwaukee and Holler Park Neighborhood Association.

Together, the corridor boasts a community-operated urban garden, a forum for neighborhood sustainability, multiple green infrastructure projects that reduce stormwater runoff by 550,000 gallons per major rain event, enhanced landscaping and beautification, and active neighborhood associations.

It is a strong commitment and partnership from all stakeholders involved. The watershed now serves as a highly visible environmentally sensitive transportation corridor that connects the airport and Amtrak station to downtown Milwaukee and the Port. The corridor also provides the people, passion and demonstrated success to serve as a model for other urban watersheds. The Wilson Park Creek Watershed can now be a starting place for other national partnerships between economic growth and preserving green space, rivers, lakes and our natural environment.

Sean Foltz is the associate director of American Rivers? Clean Water Program. He is a specialist in stormwater best management practices with particular expertise in low impact development, and works to promote and implement green infrastructure as a means to reducing stormwater pollution, flooding and improving water quality.

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