Nine Key Element Planning Update

Why is Nine Key Element planning important?

Nine Key Element planning is based on the United States Environmental Protection Agency's "Nine Minimum Elements of Successful Watershed Plans." The elements cover a range of considerations that have been proven critical for addressing non-point source pollution, including technical, financial, educational, and adaptability/sustainability factors. Together, these help ensure that watershed plans are robust and effective in improving water quality.

Approval of 9KE plans by WDNR and the EPA makes section 319 federal funding for watershed projects more accessible. Nine Key Element planning has also become the de facto standard for many of the NGO funding sources, making 9KE plans even more critical for accessing the full range of resources for watershed projects.  

What progress has been made on the planning recently?

Sweet Water is currently working on four 9KE plans for the Milwaukee region. The plan for the Kinnickinnic River watershed has been submitted to WDNR and we are currently incorporating feedback for the final draft to be submitted for EPA approval by the end of 2017. The plan for the Menomonee River watershed is mostly complete, and will also be submitted to WDNR by end-of -year.

Due to its size and complexity, planning for the Milwaukee River is segmented at the sub-watershed level. Sweet Water is currently working on two plans for Milwaukee River sub-watersheds. Nine-KE planning for the Cedar Creek and Lake Michigan Frontal sub-watersheds is still in the initial stages. This planning will utilize some new watershed modeling tools and approaches, which will be "firsts" for the development of 9KE watershed plans in Wisconsin. The anticipated completion of these sub-watershed plans is mid-2018. 

How will 9KE planning impact TMDL implementation?

Nine-KE plans are complementary precursors to Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDL) implementation plans, and help to inform the implementation plans. Sweet Water’s 9KE plans incorporate and address many aspects of the TMDLs, and also include aspects of watershed quality that fall outside the TMDL focus, so these plans have a more comprehensive scope. More detailed and targeted TMDL implementation plans will be developed at appropriate scales, based in part on the 9KE watershed and sub-watershed plans.

Bayside Village: Stormwater Flow Education

The Village of Bayside has been awarded a Fund for Lake Michigan grant to work with the Pelham Heath neighborhood (bounded by East Brown Deer Rd, North Lake Drive, East Dane Rd, and the railroad tracks) and Schlitz Audubon Nature Center to map and assess the current flow and drainage of stormwater across the neighborhood due to the present land management practices in the right-of-way.

Southeastern Wisconsin Watersheds Trust, Inc. (Sweet Water) brings diverse partners together and provides the leadership and innovation necessary to protect and restore our shared water resources in southeastern Wisconsin. For this project, we will be working with Bayside to create a series of educational content in the "Bayside Buzz", sharing project information at the Village's Summer Picnic, helping facilitate and coordinate neighborhood meetings, and gather information to create a social map which locates areas of flooding due to poor stormwater drainage.

In addition, we will be asking residents to participate in a collaborative design process wherein stormwater runoff ditch designs will be built in an outdoor classroom. This outdoor classroom will allow residents to see different design and vegetation options and understand how these land management practices work to enhance safety and protect property by insuring proper stormwater flow and drainage.

A Mini-Grant Project Case Study: Friends of Lincoln Park Real People Searching for Solutions

How do you attract people to their neighborhood park, cultivate a feeling of community, and improve water quality at the same time?

The leaders of Friends of Lincoln Park (FLP) are working on it with a 2017 mini-grant from Sweet Water.  Small projects like theirs can have a big impact, and it doesn’t require special skills, just some enthusiasm, tenacity, and love of the outdoors.  Here’s how they are doing it:

  • Scheduling river clean-ups and weed-outs (pulling invasive species plants)

  • Hosting Resource Fairs with a cleaner water theme

  • Printing “Don’t Litter” signs and printing reminders to pick-up dog poop

  • Holding regular kayaking and canoeing events

  • Erecting pet waste stations

Sometimes doing mini-grant projects don’t go perfectly as planned, as FLP found out.  Only one of several rain barrels they had were raffled-off at their Resource Fairs.  It turns out there was a barrier to knowing how to connect a rain barrel to a downspout.  FLP learned they’ll have to give hands-on help to neighborhood residents to connect a rain barrel, or not raffle them at all.  FLP had to revise their project plans to emphasize other aspects of their project since this one didn’t work out.

Beyond this year’s project and toward their long–term goals, FLP will continue maintaining signage, monthly paddling events, and finding a solution to finding used dog poop bags throughout the park instead of in waste containers.  They also will collaborate with nearby Marvin Pratt Elementary School for in-school projects that connect with Lincoln Park, thus influencing the next generation of our communities.

The Lincoln Park mini-grant project is showing residents how to connect their individual behavior with improving water quality.  

How would you use a Sweet Water mini-grant?

Click here to learn about a free Sweet Water Mini-Grant Informational Workshop on Thursday, October 12 from 2pm to 4pm, or visit to apply by Nov 1, 2017.


MillerCoors & Sweet Water Tag & Bag for Great Water Month

Last Friday, 73 MillerCoors employee volunteers teamed up with Sweet Water staff members to increase awareness about stormwater pollution in Milwaukee as part of Great Water Month.

Volunteers split up into 20 teams and spray painted more than 400 storm drains using “No Dumping” stencils in the neighborhoods surrounding South Shore Park and the MillerCoors campus. All the tagged drains are located in the combined sewer area, meaning that the water travels to the Metropolitan Milwaukee Sewerage District (MMSD) for treatment and then out to our waterways.

Teams also distributed door hangers with stormwater information, talked with residents and picked up trash during their afternoon of service. Although the temperature reached 90 degrees, volunteers soldiered on with a smile and residents seemed to appreciate their fluorescent-vested visitors.   

MillerCoors has demonstrated its commitment to water quality and corporate citizenship through its annual Great Water Month community service event, which is now in its 9th year. This year, MillerCoors has taken the additional step of becoming the first brewery in the United States to become certified through the Alliance for Water Stewardship (AWS). The AWS Standard is similar to LEED certification for “green buildings” and provides a framework to guide corporations in using water sustainably.

This community service collaboration is a part of new “Adopt-A-Storm Drain” program that Sweet Water is offering in partnership with MMSD. Since the start of the program in June, Sweet Water has worked with a half dozen neighborhood organizations in the Milwaukee area to stencil storm drains and build awareness around stormwater pollution prevention.  

If you are interested in adopting a storm drain near you, please contact Jake Fincher at or click here for more information.

Photo credit:
Artist Group Advertising
Katy Rowe & Dale Stenbroten

Welcome Samantha Katt to Sweet Water!

We have a new face at Sweet Water! Samantha Katt just joined our team last month as the new Water Policy Intern. Taylor Baseheart sat down with Samantha last week and asked her a few questions.

Are you originally from Wisconsin?

SK: I am originally from Racine and have lived in Wisconsin all my life. I did my undergraduate degree in La Crosse and am now completing my Master’s Degree here in Milwaukee.

You are currently working as an intern at Sweet Water while completing your Master’s Degree at UWM School of Freshwater Sciences. What is your area of study?

SK: My area of study is Freshwater Sciences generally, but my emphasis is on Urban Water Policy and Water Management.

Are you hoping to stay here in the Milwaukee area after graduation?

SK: Yes, I think it would be ideal to stay in the Milwaukee area. Milwaukee has a very well connected water community that I am slowly becoming a part of and I would like to continue to be a part of it.

What is your current job title at Sweet Water and what are you currently working on?

SK: I am working as Sweet Water’s Water Policy Intern, but that is by no means describing everything that I do. Since Sweet Water is a non-profit, I wear a lot of hats and have my hands in a lot of different stuff right now! Currently, I am doing a lot of community education and outreach about stormwater, stormwater drainage, and stormwater pollution, but, I also do a lot of freshwater science content generation for a variety of projects. One project is working on the Milwaukee River TMDL post-implementation and evaluation. For another project, I work closely with the Village of Bayside to educate residents about stormwater, and I also help out with the Respect Our Waters’ Adopt-a-Storm Drain campaign. I just started to work with the City of Milwaukee to help build up their Water-Centric Cities webpage - as you can see, I stay busy!

Do you have any plans after graduation?

SK: I have another year left or two full semesters, so I think I have a little bit of time to figure out exactly what I want to do and have no concrete plans yet.

We are really excited to have you on the team!  

What do you like to do outside of Sweet Water and school?

SK: I love to travel. I wish my schedule allowed for me to travel more. Right before I started graduate school my husband and I took a few months to backpack through western Europe, and we are hoping to go back this winter. But I also love traveling around the U.S. and want to do that more. I used to go on big camping trips to visit State and National Parks, but with my current schedule, that has slowed down. I hope that once I graduate I can start traveling and camping again. Maybe travel to all the National Parks? Fingers crossed!

Welcome Janet Pritchard to Sweet Water

We have a new face at Sweet Water! Janet Pritchard just joined our team last month as the new Policy Committee Coordinator. Taylor Baseheart sat down with Janet last week and asked her a few questions.

Janet, are you originally from Wisconsin?

JP: I am. I grew up in Oak Creek until I was 10 years old, then I moved to Waukesha where my parents still reside.

I heard you lived briefly in England for a time.

JP: I did. Although I grew up in Wisconsin, I haven’t actually lived here much since going off to college. I lived in New York City and Washington DC, then moved to London where I worked for an environmental public interest law group on climate change and global deforestation issues. That work focussed on European Union policies and I also led a team working on the forest tenure rights of forest-dependent communities in central and west Africa. I moved back home not just for personal reasons, but also because I want to work more on a more tangible, local level, , with local stakeholders. I really like working on state-level policies, so I am excited to be able to do that with Sweet Water.

How did you hear about Sweet Water?  What drew you to our work?

JP: After moving back to Wisconsin, I continued working on climate change and global deforestation as a consultant to client organizations back in Europe. At the same time, I began exploring different environmental issues that I could get involved with in Wisconsin in order to transfer my professional life to Wisconsin. Water issues here in southeastern Wisconsin are very dynamic and exciting with the Global Water Center located here, and the fact that we live next to the largest freshwater system in the world! Clearly, freshwater issues are very intriguing -- a lot is happening and needs to happen. So I started going to conferences, including the Sweet Water conference in April of 2016, and started running into Linda at different meetings I attended. I got to know her over the past year and began doing low key, volunteer work offering input on some work that Sweet Water was doing. So that is how the relationship started to grow. When the Policy Coordinator position became available, I perceived it as a very exciting opportunity for me, and I leapt at it.

What projects are you working on now through Sweet Water?

JP: I will be working with the Sweet Water Policy Committee exploring and analyzing different issues related to Sweet Water’s work. Some of the ongoing issues coming onto the Policy Committee’s agenda  include toxic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) which are found in pavement sealants, bacteria loading, total maximum daily load (TMDL) plan implementation, developing sustainable financing mechanisms to support the development and maintenance of green infrastructure, and riparian protection.

I will also help to develop watershed-based management plans. Water systems follow their own natural boundaries, not municipal boundaries, and they are most effectively managed when municipalities located within a watershed work together to manage and protect water resources. I’m really interested in the challenges and opportunities that collaborative management of natural resources presents to stakeholders, from a policy and governance perspective. So how can municipalities work together to manage our freshwater system in the most cost effective way for the whole region? I will be looking at some of the policy issues related to that kind of cooperation and, importantly, looking at different finance streams available to do that work, such as implementing green infrastructure and other projects on the ground. State and federal financing are conventional ways to fund green infrastructure, and the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District also finances green infrastructure through the rates it collects from water users. But the need to secure sustainable financing for the management of our water resources over the long term is great, and it competes for financing with a lot of other priorities. I will be exploring other potential sources of finance and innovative financing mechanisms to supplement currently available resources.

What is your favorite thing to do when you are not at work?

JP: One of the things I’ve enjoyed since coming back to Wisconsin is biking. When the weather is good I will bike about 15 miles a day, and maybe even longer stretches on weekends. I am really enjoying the bike trail systems in Wisconsin, especially the Oak Leaf trail which takes me traffic-free from my home in Shorewood, through the city, to the lakefront. I am also a mother of three teenagers, so that keeps me pretty busy in my off hours as well.