Greenseams: Milwaukee Flood Management
A Greenseams property. Photo by Abbie Church.
More than one million people live and work in the Milwaukee metro area. As the region grows, with more houses, pavement and concrete packed into its limits, major storms can overflow sewer systems, flooding homes with filthy water. We collaborate with the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District to run the Greenseams® Program, a pioneering flood management plan. Since 2001, we have acquired nearly 2,700 acres of flood-prone land within greater Milwaukee.
How Does Greenseams Work?
By acquiring lands outright and purchasing conservation easements, Greenseams permanently protects key properties in the Milwaukee, Menomonee, Oak Creek and Root River watersheds, where major suburban growth is expected to occur. Properties are chosen for their proximity to water, their water-absorbing soils, environmental corridor and natural area designations and their connection to public spaces.
A partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Partners in Wildlife, the Wisconsin Coastal Management Program and the North American Conservation Wetlands Act is helping restore many of the Greenseams properties to their native wetland, prairie and forest habitats. By the end of 2013, 100,000 trees had been planted on 500 acres that were previously agricultural lands. Once fully restored, these properties will absorb more rain and snow melt, which slows water flow into the City of Milwaukee, and will also act as buffers, filtering out pollutants and increasing water quality.
91 Properties and Counting
In 2013, Greenseams completed its 91st project, the purchase of 59 acres on the east bank of the North Branch Milwaukee River. The Metropolitan Milwaukee Sewerage District bought the land and will transfer ownership in a few years to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources as part of the DNR’s North Branch Milwaukee River Wildlife and Farming Heritage Area. Located downstream of the county Highway XX crossing in the Town of Farmington, the property includes 3,570 feet of river frontage, as well as a broad view of the North Branch valley.