Mapping Stormwater Flow in the Village of Bayside

By Jen Linse

For the last year, Sweet Water has been working with the Village of Bayside, Kapur & Associates, Birchline Planning, and Hey & Associates to map and assess the current flow and drainage of stormwater in the Pelham Heath neighborhood.  Funded by a grant from the Fund for Lake Michigan, the project includes: 

  • educational opportunities and neighborhood meetings to learn about stormwater and the purpose of stormwater ditches
  • social mapping to locate areas of flooding
  • flow path modeling to map and assess the flow of stormwater through the Pelham Heath Neighborhood
  • a collaborative design process wherein stormwater runoff ditch designs are explained and discussed with the public
  • an outdoor classroom which allows residents to view green infrastructure designs constructed in stormwater ditches.

Next Steps

A Green Infrastructure Outdoor Classroom

The Village of Bayside will be working with Kapur & Associates over the summer to build three green infrastructure designs on King Road including a bio-retention feature, bioswale and rain garden.  These constructed examples will serve as an outdoor classroom for Village residents to view and better understand how green infrastructure installed in stormwater ditches and areas prone to flooding can help ease flooding and improve water quality.

Meet the Board: Elizabeth Hellman

 Elizabeth Hellman is one of Sweet Water’s newest board members. We sat down to chat about her thoughts as an Environmental Engineer and what she’s noticed over her career at WEC Energy Group subsidiaries in Milwaukee.

Elizabeth Hellman is one of Sweet Water’s newest board members. We sat down to chat about her thoughts as an Environmental Engineer and what she’s noticed over her career at WEC Energy Group subsidiaries in Milwaukee.

By Martha Allen

Allen: What is your background and how did you end up in the position you are in now?
Hellman: My title is Principal Environmental Engineer at WEC Energy Group – Business Services. I originally went to college for chemical engineering but sometime during that time I became interested in environmental issues and completed an Environmental Studies certificate program in addition to my engineering degree. Meanwhile, I worked during the summers for We Energies, which was called Wisconsin Electric at that time, and one summer I had an environmental project there which interested me. Once I left college, I worked for Wisconsin Electric full time and after a year of getting used to working I started a part time master’s degree program at Marquette University and got a Civil and Environmental Engineering degree there that led me to a position at Wisconsin Electric in the environmental department and later on the water quality team.  Throughout my education and the beginning of my career, many of the projects that had interested me had been water-related and the transition made sense.

A: What kinds of things are you responsible for in your current position?
H: Actually, this summer I will be having my 25th anniversary with the company and I have been in my current position for about 15 years. I work mostly with water permits for the various generating facilities (power plants) and for other water-related projects. These permits are for water discharges, intake structures, and wastewater management/treatment. I also work on spill prevention control and countermeasure plans, not just for the power plants but for any company facilities that need them. This also includes more than just our We Energies plants because all service centers and power plants that store oil above a certain threshold need to have a spill plan. My team works on these and we also cover numerous other ancillary things that have to do with stormwater and wastewater.

A: Are you originally from the Milwaukee area?
H: I’m originally from Wisconsin but I grew up in three different places in the state. I spent most of my adolescence in Two Rivers, Wisconsin until I went to college.

A: What was your relationship with water like growing up?
H: I have lived near Lake Michigan my whole life. When I was younger, my relationship with the lake was complicated because I grew up in Two Rivers which is a bump out into the lake and it was always cold unless there was a strong wind from the west. From that standpoint I had some animosity toward Lake Michigan. Obviously, since then I have really come to appreciate it for all that it provides as a natural resource and a recreational gem. I think it’s interesting to talk to people who aren’t from the Great Lakes area because you can’t really convey how expansive it is until you’re standing on the shore. It’s interesting to see them realize that you can’t see the other side when you’re standing near it, because that’s not what most people imagine when they picture a lake. It’s really an amazing, unique, natural feature.

A: How have you seen the environmental community change over your career?
H: I think there have been such great improvements made in the Milwaukee area. I didn’t think about it as much when I first started but I realize now that there were many significant environmental challenges in our area. Looking around now, it’s amazing to see all the hard work paying off in our area. For example, I’ve worked on studies that have been done to support permitting and modifications for the Valley Power Plant which is located right next to downtown Milwaukee near I-94. Seeing the improvements over time in the aquatic community in the Menomonee River and the quality of the river water that the plant uses for cooling is really encouraging and shows how all of the work done by all of the entities in the area to bring about those improvements has paid off.

A: Briefly, what do you think of as your favorite part of your job?
H: One of the things I really enjoy is learning more about new developments in science and technology. I love seeing the new things that people have discovered or invented and figuring out how we can apply those things to our company’s facilities. In particular, I am fascinated by intake and wastewater treatment technologies that are able to do things that haven’t been done before or are more efficient at removing more arsenic, mercury, and selenium from wastewaters. The chemistry and biology involved is fascinating to me and I love being involved in deciding what equipment to install and how to make it work in a way that makes sense for our facilities and that is also cost effective for our customers.

A: If you were granted the ability to change one thing about how people view water quality, what would it be?
H: Coming from the industry perspective, I wish more people would realize that those of us in industry do care about the environment. There are many people working in our facilities who are doing their best to protect the environment and create cost-effective solutions to protect our natural resources. I am very excited to be starting my journey as a Sweet Water board member and to get to interact with a wide range of leaders in industry, higher education, and nonprofit and to see that we all share the same goals.

A: What is your favorite thing to do when you’re not at work?
H: I love spending time with my family. My four kids are very active in sports and scouts. My favorite event every year is a big summer camping trip with my husband and kids to see a different part of the country and enjoy some quality time outdoors. 

April 2018 Grant Opportunities

Sweet Water compiles a list of upcoming and ongoing grant opportunities that are available for environmental and water quality projects in our region. We encourage our partner organizations and community members to seek funding for green infrastructure, conservation, and outreach projects.

Find the list here!

Save the Date: Municipal Green Infrastructure Workshop


Municipal Green Infrastructure Opportunities
Tuesday, April 24, 2018
7:30 - 8:00 a.m. Continental Breakfast and Networking
8:00 - 10:00 a.m. - Program

UW-Milwaukee School of Freshwater Sciences—Room 3080
600 E. Greenfield Avenue Milwaukee, WI

See more event information here!

More and more municipalities in Southeastern Wisconsin are finding a place for green infrastructure stormwater management practices in their stormwater “toolbox.” Meanwhile, municipal stormwater permits from the state and TMDL requirements both generate opportunities to use green infrastructure to realize multiple objectives and benefits for the municipality and the community at large. Attend this workshop and hear from other municipalities in the region what they have done to take advantage of these opportunities. If you are municipal staff in stormwater, engineering, public works, planning, or community development, or if you work for a consulting firm that assists municipalities with stormwater planning, design, and/or construction, this workshop is for you!

Please RSVP to Ethan at


The agenda for the event will be as follows:

7:30 a.m – Continental breakfast, networking with industry professionals

8:00 a.m – Introductions, program begins

8:15 a.m – Pamela Ritger, Clean Wisconsin – How Municipal Code and Ordinance Updates Can Improve Water Quality and Further Compliance with TMDLs

8:30 a.m – Andy Kaminski, MMSD – Green Solutions Funding Opportunities

8:45 a.m – Mary Jo Lange, City of Cudahy – Packard Avenue Streetscape Reconstruction, Proposed Green Alley Project                  

9:15 a.m – Matthew Maederer, Village of Brown Deer – Bradley Road Green Infrastructure & Badger Meter Park

9:45 a.m – Wrap up, additional Q&A

Green Infrastructure Codes and Ordinances

 View of downtown Milwaukee and the shoreline of Lake Michigan

View of downtown Milwaukee and the shoreline of Lake Michigan

Across the country, green infrastructure practices have become increasingly important elements of local efforts to improve water quality. These practices improve the health of watersheds, beautify neighborhoods, and reduce maintenance costs. Despite the benefits of incorporating green infrastructure practices, many groups are still hesitant to adopt them. In order to uncover the barriers that prevent communities, municipalities, and organizations from adopting these methods, Sweet Water and other regional stakeholders have partnered with Juli Beth Hinds of Birchline Planning to study the best way to encourage best practices in the Milwaukee area.

According to Hinds, some of the largest barriers originate at the municipal level. “We have found that one of the biggest barriers that keep Milwaukee area municipalities from adopting these practices is that they don’t have enough time or resources to update their zoning ordinances,” says Hinds. Where municipalities have outdated codes and ordinances and lack the resources and time to update them, they struggle to provide support to local businesses and groups that might be interested. Improved ordinances increase local incentives for groups to incorporate green infrastructure and can also reduce startup costs.

Lack of resources for training and education is another large barrier. According to Hinds, "Sometimes it's not the regulations that are turning people away, it's just bad habits and lack of a deeper understanding. It’s a very multifaceted issue." The ultimate goal is to normalize green infrastructure so that it is the obvious choice. This requires both behavior changes and improved regulations.

Over the past few years, Hinds has been able to forge meaningful relationships with several municipalities. Recently, she partnered with the Village of Bayside to better understand how stormwater flows through a residential neighborhood. She worked with the community to create a range of solutions from municipal ordinances to helping property owners design and implement their own solutions on their properties. “Helping communities prioritize investments in their own water quality is the first step,” says Hinds, “and in the context of that, we’re helping them look again at whether there are code changes that will help.” Hinds has also been working with the City of Milwaukee to promote new landscape standards for the edges of small commercial sites and with the City of Oak Creek as they update their ordinances.

Interested in learning more about green infrastructure? In combination with Clean Wisconsin, Sweet Water is providing an on-going series of workshops on various green infrastructure technologies and options for funding. The first of these workshops was hosted at UW–Milwaukee's School of Freshwater Sciences and was tailored to community groups and houses of worship. More information will be provided as future workshops are announced. 

Meet the Board: Joan Giuliani


Joan Giuliani, Sweet Water’s newest board member, joined us in December. We sat down to get her take on the exciting projects happening in the Milwaukee area and her current role as Environmental Engineer at MillerCoors.

Sweet Water: What experiences lead you to your current position?
Giuliani: I moved to Milwaukee in 2002 for an environmental consulting job and then ended up to getting my masters in Environmental Engineering at MSOE. During that time an internship opened up at Miller Coors. I became an intern there while going to school and later was hired on full time. I’ve been the Environmental Engineer in the MillerCoors brewery since 2007.

S: What are some of the current projects you are most excited about?
G: Currently, I’m spending a lot of time on MillerCoors’ partnership with Alliance for Water Stewardship (AWS). The goal is for our brewery to achieve the International Water Stewardship Standard and we’ve been working on that for a couple of years now. If we get it, our MillerCoors brewery in Milwaukee will be the first brewery in the world to get certified. As environmental engineer, I’m also responsible for compliance reporting and some other projects that pop up at the end of the year.

S: In your opinion, what makes Milwaukee’s water quality challenges different from other parts of the Midwest and the United States as a whole?
G: From a brewing perspective, Milwaukee is extremely fortunate to be located right next to Lake Michigan and to have clean and abundant water. Three other MillerCoors breweries are located in water-stressed areas. This is an advantage and a disadvantage. It’s easy to overlook the importance of conservation when you have abundant freshwater resources and it’s hard to teach communities about the importance of protecting their water unless they feel like it’s in crisis. Other breweries we have in Texas and California already understand the importance of water conservation because they are feeling the lack of reliable freshwater so strongly right now. This contrast has opened my eyes in regards to Milwaukee’s main challenges because it’s easy to look at Lake Michigan and forget that we also have major quality and health-related issues to work on here that are just as important.

S: How do you feel that your work impacts the greater Milwaukee area?
G: MillerCoors' efforts to improve our water efficiency are pretty well known. We do our best to continue improving our water use and the way we engage with our community. Our work toward achieving the AWS International Water Stewardship Standard would be very exciting and would lift Milwaukee’s role in the international water community. In addition, I’d like to think that we have also been able to support other local organizations working on these issues through our community outreach and through events like Great Water Month. We’re always working to bring water quality issues to the front of people’s minds because without clean water, there is no beer!

Personally, my goal has always been to continue to learn from others and gain more regional connections. I want to partner more with local organizations that are already doing exciting work, whether that is outreach or education or research. I have been very impressed with our community’s efforts.

S: What are you hoping to bring to the Sweet Water board?
G: I really want to learn as much as possible. I’m hoping I will be able to learn how I, and how MillerCoors, can be more involved in the health of these watersheds and improve community resilience in the Milwaukee area. I look forward to sharing my experiences but mostly I’m hoping it will be an inspiring and educational experience for me.  

S: What’s your favorite thing to do when you’re not at work?
G: Most of all, I love spending time with my two boys. They are honestly the light of my life. You have a really bad day at work and just seeing them and being around them is wonderful. They’re everything.

Announcing Sweet Water's 2018 Mini-Grant Recipients

 One of the 2017 mini-grant project sites. Sweet Water will be continuing the mini-grant program for the 2018 season with new projects. 

One of the 2017 mini-grant project sites. Sweet Water will be continuing the mini-grant program for the 2018 season with new projects. 

Written by Joan Herriges

Thank you to all who applied for a Sweet Water mini-grant this past fall.  The Water Quality Mini-Grant Program funds local, grassroots efforts that employ practices and have activities that will improve regional water quality, enhance conservation, restore natural habitat, or educate people about water quality issues.  There were 32 proposals submitted and we are proud to announce our 14 awardees listed below.

Sweet Water is seeking to grow the Mini-Grant Program and looking for additional funders.  If you or your business is interested in sponsoring a mini-grant project, please call Joan Herriges at 414-382-1766 or email at .

Sweet Water 2018 Water Quality Mini-Grant Program Winners - by Organization, Name of Project, & Watershed

·      Hawthorn Hollow Nature Sanctuary & Arboretum - WATERshed Program; Root

·      Highland Community School Outdoor Classroom Watershed Model; Menomonee

·      Humboldt Park Friends - Pilot Shoreline Restoration of the Humboldt Park Lagoon; KK

·      Mequon Nature Preserve - Rainwater Harvesting System; Menomonee

·      Midwest Pesticide Action Center - Midwest Grows Green Lawn & Land Forum; All Southeastern WI Watersheds

·      Milwaukee Area Science Advocates - Urban Garden Project at the Milwaukee Women's Center; Milwaukee

·      Milwaukee Audubon Society, Inc. - Tendick Nature County Park Wetland Restoration; Milwaukee

·      Northwest Side Community Development Corp. - Rain Garden & Tree Planting at Samuel Clemens School; Milwaukee

·      Ozaukee Washington Land Trust - Treasures of Oz 2018 Eco-Tour--Ozaukee's Other Coast; Milwaukee

·      Partners of Greenfield Parks & Recreation - Garbage to Green: Improving Konkel Park's Wetlands; Menomonee

·      Schlitz Audubon Nature Center - Garden Play Space Sluiceway & Rain Garden Project; Lake MI Near Shore Drainage

·      Spririt of Peace Lutheran Church - Disconnection of Roof Downspouts, Runoff Capture & Irrigation; Menomonee

·      The Table - Alice's Garden Rain Water Harvesting Project; Milwaukee

·      Watershed Team of Common Ground - Water Drop Alert Outreach; All Southeastern WI Watersheds

We Thank Our 2018 Mini-Grant Program Funders for Their Support.