Environmental Restoration

Stormwater Management

Managing stormwater run-off is one of a major metropolitan area’s most pressing environmental challenges, and Milwaukee is no exception. Wetlands serve as a natural water filter and reservoir to minimize flooding during period of heavy rains. Filling wetlands, as has occurred in the Menomonee Valley over the past 150 years, removes this key natural resource and places strain on sewerage infrastructure to handle run-off during storms.

One of the key components of the Menomonee Valley redevelopment is the conversion of the 140-acre former rail yard at the western end of the Valley. Through an innovative public-private partnership, this important parcel is being transformed into a cutting edge business district and community park that demonstrates how new development can coexist with – and actually strengthen – the surrounding ecology and neighborhoods. The site plan has already garnered national attention, including an award from the American Society of Landscape Architects.

The park’s River Lawn provides visual and physical access to the river for trail and park users. A large portion of the River Lawn is dedicated to stormwater management, so this area takes on more passive uses such as informal lawn and naturalized areas along with a network of trails. As can be seen in the sketches below, the lawn serves the purpose of a retention pond to handle large influxes of water during heavy storms. This lessens the likelihood and impact of flooding, and relieves the strain on sewerage infrastructure leading to improved water quality.

The natural prairie restoration efforts being undertaken along the Hank Aaron State Trail and throughout the Valley further aid in minimizing erosion and stormwater run-off by providing ground cover and a strong root structure.