The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Gary Belan, American Rivers, 202-347-7550 x3027
Charlie Boesel, Joyce Foundation, 312-795-3816
Bill Graffin, Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District, 414-225-2077

Milwaukee's Communities and Clean Water to Benefit From Grant Awarded to American Rivers

Funds will go to innovative water infrastructure solutions


Milwaukee will be taking a 21st century approach to water infrastructure thanks to a three-year, $375,000 grant awarded to American Rivers by the Joyce Foundation. The grant, which will further develop a green infrastructure program in Milwaukee, is designed to improve the health, safety, and quality of life in Milwaukee's communities. In addition, the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District is providing $150,000 in matching funds this year to support American Rivers in advancing the program. American Rivers will play a leadership role in Milwaukee implementing innovative solutions to improve the health of community waterways, and demonstrating sustainable water supply solutions for rivers and communities.

Green infrastructure incorporates natural systems that can help supply clean water, reduce polluted runoff, reduce sewer overflows, minimize flooding and enhance community health and safety. It means, for example, planting trees and installing green roofs, rather than enlarging sewers or building a costly new treatment plant.

Green infrastructure solutions are cheaper and they provide multiple benefits, including lower energy use and greenhouse gas emissions. They also create jobs in many sectors that aren't outsourced, including plumbing, landscaping, engineering, building, and design. Green solutions support green tech industries, including supply chains and the jobs connected with manufacturing of materials from low-flow toilets to roof membranes.

"With this project, we will demonstrate that green solutions work better, cost less, and provide more flexibility for managing our water resources in the face of global warming," said Gary Belan, director of the clean water program at American Rivers, "Old 19th and 20th century approaches to water management simply aren't fit for the challenges of this century. Today, we know that nature works best to enhance community safety and security and also saves money."

"Our $4 billion regional investment in clean water infrastructure will only become more efficient with additional green infrastructure. We are finding that green infrastructure will help us get the most bang for the buck in our continuing efforts to protect Lake Michigan," said Kevin Shafer, executive director of the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District.


Based in Chicago, Illinois, the Joyce Foundation supports efforts to protect the natural environment of the Great Lakes, to reduce poverty and violence in the region, and to ensure that its people have access to good schools, decent jobs, and a diverse and thriving culture.

The Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District is a regional government agency that provides wastewater treatment and flood management services for 28 communities in the Greater Milwaukee Area. Its service area covers 411 square miles. Established by state law, the District is governed by 11 commissioners and has taxing authority. Besides its core responsibilities, MMSD also handles: water quality research, laboratory services, household hazardous waste collection, mercury collection, industrial waste monitoring, and Milorganite, a fertilizer trusted by professionals for more than 80 years. For more information, visit

American Rivers is the only national organization standing up for healthy rivers so our communities can thrive. Through national advocacy, innovative solutions and our growing network of strategic partners, we protect and promote our rivers as valuable assets that are vital to our health, safety and quality of life. Founded in 1973, American Rivers has more than 65,000 members and supporters nationwide, with offices in Washington, DC and the Mid-Atlantic, Northeast, Midwest, Southeast, California and Northwest regions.