American Rivers was recently recognized for their work with the Housing Authority of the City of Milwaukee. An award was presented at a recognition ceremony at their Annual Meeting. I was there to accept the award on American Rivers behalf.
Over the past year we helped the Housing Authority secure $225,000 from the Fund for Lake Michigan of the Greater Milwaukee Foundation for bioswales in a reconstruction project of Wisconsin's largest public housing cluster on Milwaukee's northwest side.
Westlawn was first created in the 1950s; the 75-acre development has provided critical affordable housing to a bustling city and is now in the process of being revitalized for changing community needs. American Rivers played a technical assistance role for the project.
The new bioswales will reduce oil, grease, dirt and other contaminants from draining directly to storm sewers. Roads are pitched so that runoff goes to the specially designed swales on one side of the pavement. Completed swales have been planted with native prairie dropseed, switch grass and blue oat grass.
The combination of swales and dry basins will eliminate the big surge of storm water that ordinarily would flow off pavement to the Milwaukee River and Lake Michigan during a heavy storm. The entire system will treat and store a total of 158,000 gallons of water; while the basins will store nearly 1.4 million gallons of stormwater, and effectiveness of the system in trapping dirt, bacteria and other pollutants will be monitored.