The Cities That Work Series: Tri-state region united by the Fresh Coast
- By Kevin Shafer, Executive Director, Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District
- July 20, 2012
As a great Great Lakes city, Milwaukee is positioning itself as a "City of the Future." This means that our efforts are targeted to improve our residents’ lives by making Milwaukee more livable, economically viable, and cleaner. I know that Chicago and Gary share these same goals. Physically, these three cities are connected by one body of water, Lake Michigan. This lifeline was the reason that these cities were formed and is a vital resource that we must sustain moving forward. To become a City of the Future, Milwaukee must also work with these neighboring cities for us all to become a "Region of the Future."
Milwaukee's Mayor Tom Barrett refers to our city as being on the Fresh Coast. His vision includes these neighboring cities and is our rallying point. Living on the Fresh Coast means that we must sustain the Lake, using it wisely to promote economic development, create jobs, and improve the quality of life for our residents. In Milwaukee some business leaders have formed the Milwaukee Water Council which has coalesced around this vision to enhance economic development and make Milwaukee the "World Water Hub." The Water Council focuses on building partnerships with local universities, drawing attention to the region's many assets.
In Milwaukee, we learned that utilizing nature to manage our stormwater helps in many of these goals. Green infrastructure improves our neighborhoods by making them more livable, creating jobs, and reducing our impacts on Lake Michigan. In the Menomonee Valley, green infrastructure has proved that it can bring a spark to a tired, brownfields area and create an economic development zone that has a very natural open character. Companies are seeking this area to relocate. They are bringing jobs and have become great corporate citizens. Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage Disctrict also is selling record numbers of rain barrels which helps individuals understand their impact on their environment. For this “Region of the Future”, I see this greener approach to infrastructure as the linchpin of our future success. It brings attention to our natural resources and our businesses, and ultimately protects our Lake Michigan.
Kevin Schafer is the Executive Director of the the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District, a regional government agency that provides water reclamation and flood management services for about 1.1 million customers in 28 communities in the Greater Milwaukee Area.
On Wednesday, July 25, MPC hosted our 2012 Annual Luncheon: The Cities That Work, featuring an insightful dialogue between the mayors of Gary and Milwaukee, about opportunities to strengthen the tri-state region. Leading up to the event, we featured a series of posts from guest authors and members of our staff on issues that unite the tri-state region. Read the whole series at www.metroplanning.org/citiesthatworkseries.