Brookfield, Elm Grove join Menomonee River pollution control effort

Permit allows 11 municipalities to work together in keeping river and its tributaries clean

Feb. 5, 2013

A total of 11 municipalities, including Brookfield and Elm Grove, joined together to adopt a Menomonee River Watershed-based permit that will clean polluted water in the river and its tributaries.

The Clean Water Act requires municipalities to operate with a stormwater permit, approved by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, that creates a plan for reducing pollution streets and urban area water runoff during rain storms, according to Southeastern Wisconsin Wastersheds Trust. The trust, known as Sweet Water, recognized the 11 communities in December.

Sweet Water was established in 2008 to achieve healthy and sustainable water resources throughout the Greater Milwaukee watersheds and was instrumental in the initiative's efforts.

Permit benefits

Bryan Hartsook of the DNR signed the permit in November and said the joint effort has several benefits.

"The permit is a way of dissolving the drawn political boundaries of municipalities and treating runoff as a true watershed issue," Hartsook said. "It also promotes communication and partnership through the planning and implementing watershed projects."

A fact sheet written by Sweet Water, said the permit allows participating communities to save money while working together to keep the river clean.

"The permit saves taxpayer dollars by sharing costs of regional pollution control measures that improve water quality and satisfy permit conditions for all participating municipalities, eliminating overlap of local governments in water quality efforts," according to the fact sheet.

Hartsook said all municipalities need to participate in at least one watershed project during the permit term of five years. This can be done either individually or jointly with another participating municipality.

The development of this permit included more than a year of meetings with "MS4" municipalities in the Menomonee River Watershed, and other agencies, including Midwest Environmental Advocates, Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District, and the Environmental Protection Agency, Hartsook said.

Other participating units are the cities of Milwaukee, Greenfield and Wauwatosa; the villages of Butler, Germantown, West Allis, West Milwaukee and Menomonee Falls; and Milwaukee County.

Controlling pollution

Underwood Creek passes through Brookfield and Elm Grove and is a tributary of the Menomonee River.

"This gives us the opportunity to spend money in the most cost effective manner," Brookfield Public Works Director Tom Grisa said. "We're excited to see where this takes us."

The MMSD has funded projects in Brookfield that address pollution runoff, Grisa said, including the green roof at the Wirth Aquatic Center.

MMSD's website lists several things residents can do to control pollution runoff in their own communities, like planting a rain garden, installing rain barrels, and disconnecting downspouts.

The website also advises against disposing of hazardous waste material, such as motor oil, pesticides, fluorescent light bulbs, and shoe polish, in the trash. Those items should be taken to a hazardous waste collection site.

More information on watersheds and controlling water pollution can be found on the Sweet Water website and the MMSD website


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