Tag Archives: SEWRPC

Approved: Oak Creek Watershed Restoration Plan To Begin In Early 2016

Oak Creek Parkway fall

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.

Let’s go.


Filed under City Council, Milwaukee County, Oak Creek watershed, South Milwaukee

Progress Toward Long-Term Solutions For The Oak Creek Watershed

Oak Creek parkway

I am excited for the future of the Oak Creek watershed, and we’re making progress toward what I consider a key part of its long-term health and vibrancy: a watershed restoration plan.

The goal: Develop a plan that will guide future actions and investment across the watershed, giving us the information we need to make a real difference in bringing this environmental, ecological and recreational resource back to life.

As you may recall, leaders and other key stakeholders from each of the communities, governmental bodies and other organizations in the 28-square-fmile watershed met in January to discuss a potential plan. At the meeting, we gave feedback to the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission so they could provide a scope of work.

That scope of work is now back, and you can see it here.

It lays out a clear case for why a plan is necessary – including some of the problems that need addressing, and how we can get to workable solutions for the long term. The four focus areas will be around:

  • Water quality;
  • Recreational access and use;
  • Habitat conditions, and
  • Targeted stormwater drainage and flooding issues.

In addition, the scope document states, the status of the Mill Pond and the associated dam would be addressed considering their relationship to multiple focus issues.

The most important deliverable for me: “The watershed restoration plan will present implementation strategies, estimate the amount of technical and financial assistance needed for implementation and the associated costs, identify the authorities that will be relied upon to implement the plan, and identify potential sources of technical and financial assistance for plan implementation.”

In other words, this plan will deliver a comprehensive list of projects we should tackle across the watershed to ensure its long-term vitality. And it will provide us a path to address them.

It won’t be cheap. The restoration plan as proposed comes in at more than $500,000. But this is the cost of the holistic approach we’ve been lacking in this debate for decades. (The last similar study was done in the late 1980.)

Leaders representing some of the key potential plan funders — me, Milwaukee County Supervisor Pat Jursik and Parks Director John Dargle and Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District Executive Director Kevin Shafer — and Mike Hahn from SEWPRC met recently to discuss coordination, a path toward implementation and potential funding strategies.

It was a very positive discussion. We will meet again.

We will also be seeking grant funding for the plan, such as is being done with a related Oak Creek watershed water quality data testing effort being proposed by the Racine Health Department.

I ask for your continued support of this process and pledge to keep you posted as we move ahead. Do not hesitate to contact me with any questions, comments or concerns.

The public will remain a key part of the process throughout, and will have plenty of opportunities to weigh in as we look to move ahead with the plan. That commitment to public involvement, outreach and education will also continue during the actual planning effort, as we’d bring on a third-party group focused on just those activities. You can learn more in the scope of work.

Ultimately, any funding strategy will require approval by the boards and councils of all the entities, and we’ll work toward that in coming months.

As I’ve written about, this is important work for South Milwaukee, and the entire watershed. I believe more than ever that this is the right path to take here.


Filed under Oak Creek watershed, South Milwaukee

Another Step Taken In Extending 794

The Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission added the extension of the Lake Parkway to the Year 2035 Regional Transportation Plan, unanimously approving the six-mile project at its meeting Wednesday.

Check out the press release from Milwaukee County Supervisor Pat Jursik, a champion of this project, and coverage from Oak Creek Patch.

Jursik’s statement:

An extended Lake Parkway will provide the necessary transportation infrastructure to promote economic development in Milwaukee County’s South Shore and around the Port of Milwaukee and General Mitchell International Airport.  We are part of the increasingly powerful lake corridor mega-region that stretches from Gary, Indiana through Chicago, Illinois to Ozaukee County, Wisconsin.  I call upon State elected officials to fund this important corridor project.

Indeed, that is the hardest part about this important initiative. I’ll keep you posted.


Filed under Construction, Milwaukee County, Transportation

Oak Creek Watercourse Update

Unfortunately, I was not able to attend the most recent meeting of the group of local, county and state officials discussing the future of the Oak Creek watercourse through South Milwaukee.

But Milwaukee County Supervisor Pat Jursik, who has led the effort to at least get everyone to the table on this important issue, has an update on progress in her most recent eNews update.

And here it is …

The Oak Creek Watershed (including the Cities of Oak Creek, South Milwaukee and Cudahy as well as the Airport) drains into the Oak Creek Watercourse.  There are many issues of concern surrounding this Watercourse, including recent extreme storm events resulting in flooding around the Watercourse; contaminated sediment at Mill Pond; the condition of the dam; aging sewer infrastructure in Grant Park and Oak Creek Parkway; and streambank and Lake Michigan bluff erosion which threatens property.

I have worked with our regional planning agency to facilitate meetings with the City of South Milwaukee and the Milwaukee County Parks Department.  We have drawn on the knowledge of other agencies including the Department of Natural Resources. As a result of these talks, the City of South Milwaukee and the County Parks Department will create an agreement defining responsibility for emergencies,  maintenance and improvement of the Oak Creek Watercourse.  Following is a brief explanation of some relevant concerns. 

  • Long ago, the City placed concrete channels in parts of the Creek.  Now, vegetation in the streambed and the structural soundness of bridges over the stream are of concern.
  • The Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission may be able to research the options for resolving dam issues and the potential for additional washouts of the road at the Mill Pond.  The community would need to consider this data and reach a conclusion on the best future for the area.  Policymakers would need to execute and seek funding for any decision.
  • Farther downstream, sediment, stormwater and antiquated infrastructure have eroded the Creek banks and Lake Michigan bluffs, resulting in slumping slopes, an eroded coastline, and imminent loss of more parkland.  Milwaukee County has proposed a project to resolve the eroding bluff.  Storm and sanitary sewer structures need to be repaired.
  • Finally, the community needs to determine priorities.  It may wish to invest in protection for structures that are threatened by extreme rainfall and buildings experiencing sanitary sewer backups.

These are just a few of the many issues that must be resolved.

In other words, there is a lot of work to yet to do here — and tough decisions to be made. But at least the discussions continue. I’ll keep you posted.

You can access Pat’s entire newsletter here.

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Filed under Community