Green Luminaries

Neighborhood Group Battles Pollution

Century City Triangle Neighborhood Association wins award for rain barrels, rain gardens.

By - Jun 30th, 2016 12:27 pm
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Milwaukee is becoming more green, and the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District (MMSD) is helping lead the way. The group has created its monthly Green Luminary Award to recognize area groups that find ways to reduce water runoff of any kind.

Green Luminaries are recognized by MMSD for leadership in promoting and installing green infrastructure to capture, cleanse and reduce storm water runoff and the resulting pollution that would occur. Rain barrels and rain gardens, permeable pavement and green roofs  are known as green infrastructure because they supplement the capacity of traditional gray infrastructure like metal sewer pipes. Previous Green Luminaries include the Fund for Lake Michigan, Mequon Nature Preserve, Outpost Natural Foods, Mandel Group and many others. This month’s winner is the Century City Triangle Neighborhood Association (CCTNA).

CCTNA has accomplished a lot in the 30th St. Industrial Corridor, installing 200 rain barrels and just under 1,500 square feet of rain gardens in just the past two years. Plans are to add another 100 rain barrels this year and another 600 square feet of rain gardens. When completed, the group’s full 2,100 square feet of gardens will absorb 9,240 gallons of water every time it rains, Karen Sands, MMSD’s director of planning, research and sustainability has estimated.

Working on a rain garden. Photo courtesy of MMSD.

Working on a rain garden. Photo courtesy of MMSD.

Yvonne McCaskill heads up CCTNA and she’s been instrumental in raising the group’s green profile, using neighborhood cleanups and getting schools and kids involved.

“We tie together environmental health and neighborhood beautification,” McCaskill told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

The association represents the triangle-shaped neighborhood southwest of the intersection of N. 27th St. and W. Capitol Drive but carries its pollution prevention message to other adjoining neighborhoods, she notes.

“What we do is create strategies to improve the quality of life of the residents on the storm water management campaign,” McCaskill said.

“Three years ago we were able to start a rain garden and rain barrel demonstration. We educate children on the importance of managing storm water. Have them experience planting a rain garden or maintaining a rain garden.”

Some of the children paint the rain barrels as they’re being taught about the importance of what they’re doing. “The kids do understand that if we don’t take care of our water, we’ll have many problems,” she said.

Storm water runoff picks up and carries with it many different pollutants that are found on paved surfaces such as sediment, nitrogen, phosphorus, bacteria, oil and grease, trash, pesticides and metals.

The more CCTNA can educate residents on being good stewards of the land, the more everyone will benefit, McCaskill noted:

“Managing storm water where it falls, collecting the storm water, putting that water to good use, can’t do anything but help the environment as a whole.”

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