Innovative stormwater solutions in Milwaukee

Installing a StormGUARDen at a Milwaukee home

Green infrastructure practices like building bioswales around parking lots and streets to capture polluted storm runoff, using permeable pavers in parking areas, and installing rain gardens, cisterns, rain barrels and green roofs help reduce the risk of flooding and keep our waterways healthy. That’s why Clean Wisconsin Installing a StormGAURDenhas been partnering with the Milwaukee Metropolitain Sewerage District since 2014 to scale-up green infrastructure in the Milwaukee region through education, outreach, policy, and on-the-ground installation of rain barrels and rain gardens. This summer, we hit a major milestone—we installed our 700th ran barrel in Milwaukee!

This summer we also partnered with Stormwater Solutions Engineering to install innovative new systems for managing stormwater runoff and sewer overflows. StormGUARDen™ is a rainfall harvesting, self-watering garden. The device sits at the bottom of a downspout and redirects water from the roof, allowing it to infiltrate the ground at a safe distance from a building’s foundation. It also supports a contained garden that is watered from stored rainfall.

StormGAURDen at a Milwaukee home.Combining the functions of a rain garden and rain barrel, StormGUARDen™ nurtures flowering plants, filters out rooftop contaminants and retains the volume of 7 rain barrels’ worth of stormwater during a rain event.

Through grant funding from the Sustain Our Great Lakes program, Clean Wisconsin and Stormwater Solutions Engineering are working with community groups to install 35 StormGUARDens™ in the neighborhoods surrounding Milwaukee’s  30th Street Industrial Corridor. This project, which will continue through 2023, engages residents in the important work of climate resilience.

Another expected benefit of the project is preventing combined sewer overflows in Milwaukee. This is especially important because, in storm events, rainwater can overwhelm the combined sewer which carries both sewage and rainwater. The overflow of contaminated water then flows into Lake Michigan, polluting Milwaukee’s main source of drinking water.

Clean Wisconsin’s green infrastructure work helps prevent pollutants on roads and parking lots from entering Milwaukee’s drinking water sources by capturing and holding stormwater runoff during large rain events. The existing green infrastructure that Clean Wisconsin has installed in the Milwaukee area captures over two million gallons of stormwater per year, beautifies neighborhoods, and keeps that water from contributing to flooding and harming water quality in nearby waterways.