Milwaukee waterway enhancements; grant money tapped for projects

Recipients of grant money to help protect and enhance Wisconsin waterways say Milwaukee is set to benefit from a big investment.

On a rainy day, Erin Povak cannot help but think of what is being washed into the sewer. 

"Every time it rains, pollutants are picked up from everywhere.  It is actually the leading cause of pollution in the greater Milwaukee watershed," Povak said.

Povak is with the group Sweet Water. It is one of four Milwaukee-area organizations receiving a combined $235,000 in grant money through the Wisconsin Coastal Management Program.

"It’s all about ensuring ecological and economic sustainability," said Kathy Blumenfeld, DOA Secretary-designee.

Sweet Water will use the money to education small businesses in Milwaukee and Ozaukee counties about ways to avoid storm water pollutants.

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Another group, the Milwaukee Redevelopment Authority, will use its allocation to expand the city's RiverWalk. Leaders say funds will cover construction for a portion of the project known as "The Node."

Rendering of The Node

"This is the unique and fun part of this project –we are cutting down a portion of the dock wall to allow Lake Michigan water to inundate the area," said Alyssa Remington, Milwaukee Economic Development Specialist.

Remington said the expansion will straddle the river near the new Komatsu building on Greenfield Avenue – and connect to Kinnickinnic Avenue. "The Node" will allow direct access to the water. 

Rendering of The Node

"Everywhere you look, while you have visual access to the water – you don’t always have physical access," Remington said.

With the grants, the groups hope for educational opportunities and a deeper respect for our lake and rivers.

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The city plans to open the Node to public access in the fall of next year.

Statewide, Governor Tony Evers said $1.4 million in grants will be given out to 41 projects.