Expanding the Resilient Communities Program

People in a Milwaukee community celebrating their rain management program outdoors in front of a hand painted sign

Green Infrastructure and Community Resiliency in Milwaukee and Beyond 


Clean Wisconsin’s green infrastructure work continues to build community resiliency and provide needed protections for Milwaukee’s drinking water sources. After nine years of partnership with the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewer District, Clean Wisconsin is celebrating over 700 rain barrel installations! This summer we installed 8 rain garden plantings and convened the installation of 30 StormGUARDens through another partnership with Stormwater Solutions Engineering. 

By capturing and holding stormwater runoff during large rain events, Clean Wisconsin’s green infrastructure practices help manage nutrient runoff, reduce flood implications, and decrease the amount of harmful pollutants from entering Milwaukee’s water supply. The green infrastructure that Clean Wisconsin has installed in the Milwaukee now area captures over two million gallons of stormwater per year, keeping that water from overwhelming the sewer systems or contaminating Lake Michigan. 

Clean Wisconsin is also working to support the reimagining and expansion of Melvina Park. This project will restore a vacant lot in the 30th Street Industrial Corridor to usable green space by expanding an adjacent park, mitigating contamination, and integrating stormwater management systems. As part of the community outreach team for this project, Clean Wisconsin has worked with residents to create “peace pole” art installations for the park, invested in the planting of 63 trees, and broadened community engagement through educational workshops and community feedback sessions. 

The model of community-based green infrastructure development on Milwaukee’s north side has been so successful that Clean Wisconsin’s Resilient Communities Program is providing expertise to support existing efforts in Green Bay. In early November, Clean Wisconsin partnered with the Brown County Public Library to host two climate resiliency workshops for Green Bay residents. The workshops featured discussions on managing stormwater at home and included a rain barrel raffle. With continued community support, more events and community work in other cities across Wisconsin is expected in 2023.  

At the Resilient Communities Program season recap event, new Program Director Nancy Retana spoke about her vision for the future of Clean Wisconsin’s community resiliency work. The event, hosted at Clean Wisconsin’s Milwaukee office in the Garden Homes neighborhood was enthusiastically attended by community leaders and engaged residents, a sign that the program’s work is making a significant difference for the environment and the community.