Monday, October 9, 2017

Rain gardens, strong partnerships keep Lake Michigan clean

Walking amid joggers and bikers along a glistening Lake Michigan today, I remembered that more than 12 years ago I helped publicize then-Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker's disinterest in stemming fecal contamination and other runoff from Lake Park, down the bluff, and into Lake Michigan near Bradford Beach:
Researchers looking for the cause of pollution responsible for closing Milwaukee's Bradford Beach in the spring and summer of 2004 have identified one ironic leading contributor to the contamination:
Milwaukee County government itself, just-revealed documents and scientific findings show. Contamination is reaching the Bradford Beach sand and water through five large sewer pipe openings known as "outfalls," which are owned by Milwaukee County. 
Topped with circular, protective concrete covers about five feet in diameter, the outfalls are located at the top of Bradford Beach and east of the Lincoln Memorial Drive sidewalk closest to a part of the lakeshore described on the county parks' Web site as "Milwaukee's most popular beach for swimming and sunbathing."
There are outfalls near both the north and south sides of the main gathering spot at the Bradford Beach bathhouse. Frequently used sand volleyball courts and sunning areas are also close to outfalls, as are wading and swimming spots.
But partners, including MMSD, Colectivo (formerly Alterrra), and the UWM WATER Institute stepped in - - more here and here - - took charge, and through beach cleanups and the installation of swales and rain gardens, the lakefront is much healthier and cleaner.

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