Dec 04, 2020

Flooding Mitigation Efforts Elevate Schoolyards in Milwaukee

This is a Storm Water Solutions 2020 Top Project winner. 

milwaukee public schools

Location: Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Cost: $2.8 Million

Size: 112,883 square feet of various GI and site improvements; 453,024 square feet of urban forest

Owner: Milwaukee Public Schools

Manager:  Kara Koch, senior project engineer, Stormwater Solutions Engineering; Angeline Koch, sustainability project specialist, Milwaukee Public Schools; and Justin Hegarty, executive director, Reflo

Designer: Stormwater Solutions Engineering, New Eden Landscape Architects, Allison Tree and  Reflo 

Contractor: Payne & Dolan, Poblocki Paving, Eddy's Landscaping, Gibralter Landscape, Horizon Land Development Services, Chaput Land Surveys

Manufacturers: Various manufacturers 

Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) embarked on the redevelopment of various schoolyards to improve both the environmental health of the space and the wellbeing of their students and community. The project focused on the redevelopment of five schoolyards in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. 

Many urban school districts like MPS often have schoolyards covered with crumbling asphalt and little green space to play.

Milwaukee residents have suffered catastrophic flooding and combined sewer overflows, which have not only impacted homeowners, but the area’s vital freshwater resources that received millions of gallons of untreated storm water runoff.  The goal of this project was to install green infrastructure at these MPS sites, as part of a larger plan devised by the city of Milwaukee and the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District to capture storm water. 

For designers, it was a challenge to construct a plan that would fit within each of the schools’ visions of redevelopment and also fit the allocated budgets. As construction nears completion, the storm water features are working as designed. Each site has the capacity to manage tens of thousands of gallons of storm water every time it rains, while providing habitats for pollinators, birds and other living creatures. 

About the author

Winner profiles were compiled by SWS Managing Editor Katie Johns and Associate Editor Cristina Tuser. Johns can be reached at [email protected] and Tuser can be reached at [email protected]