What a watershed week for the future of the Oak Creek watershed.
In the past week, the South Milwaukee Common Council, Milwaukee County Board and Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District Board all approved intergovernmental cooperation agreements for the creation of an Oak Creek watershed restoration plan.
Next: The beginning of the planning process itself in the first couple of months of 2016.
The Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission will do the work, as it develops recommendations to improve water quality, recreational access and use, habitat conditions and targeted stormwater drainage and flooding issues. The status and future of the Mill Pond and dam will also receive special focus as part of the study.
It’s much-needed work that is too long in coming — about 30 years, to be exact. That’s how long it’s been since the watershed has received this kind of holistic planning focus. And I’m proud to help drive it.
Of course, patience is encouraged, as we take a long-term view in fixing the watershed.
The study will take more than two years to complete. My ask: Be heard, throughout.
There will be plenty of opportunities for public input, comment and reaction. In addition to regular meetings of a technical committee comprised of representatives from each watershed jurisdiction, there will be a number of stakeholder meetings for area residents, an open house and other chances to weigh in. More details to come on that early next year.
The study will cost $542,900, with MMSD contributing $280,000 of that — equal to the amount of watershed land mass in the sewerage district boundaries. SEWRPC is contributing $225,000 in-kind, while the remaining $18,950 shares will be paid by the City of South Milwaukee and Milwaukee County.
I have every confidence this will be money well spent, as it yields the information, science, context and road map we need to make decisions big and small in bringing the watershed back to life.
In other words, the work toward a cleaner and more vibrant Oak Creek watershed begins now. Dive in with all the partners who have come together to make this restoration plan a reality.