Students take first step toward better stormwater management in Logan Square
Kara Riggio and Erin McMillan brief high school students from Chicago Public Schools and Noble Street College Prep on how to spot stormwater management gone awry. Photos by Emily Cikanek
On St. Patrick’s Day – always an eventful holiday in the Chicago area, but one made even more celebratory this year by falling on a Saturday during a rare March heat wave – a group of high schoolers from Chicago Public Schools and Noble Street College Prep could have been anywhere, reveling in the city’s festivities. Instead, they spent the day walking up and down Milwaukee Avenue in Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood as volunteers collecting data on how the community’s property owners currently manage stormwater. The data these 19 students collected is helping to inform the goals and outcomes of the new Milwaukee Avenue Green Development Corridor, a pilot program through which eligible residents and business owners along the corridor can apply to receive a portion of a $200,000 grant from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency’s Green Infrastructure Grant program. The funding can be used to make property improvements that reduce local flooding, protect Chicago’s waterways – and make Milwaukee Avenue one of the most environmentally-friendly corridors in Chicago. The application process opens up on April 1 making the March 17 data gathering all the more important to understand current conditions.
After drawing tiny symbols on maps all day, as the paper twisted in the wind and threatened to blow away, Chicago Academy student Heidi Bustos said she had a much better understanding of the goals of the Milwaukee Avenue Green Development Corridor. “If people don’t realize how water influences the environment, we won’t be able to stop the change that is happening to our planet,” she said. Bustos acknowledged that she started out the day skeptical that the information they were collecting would be helpful to anyone. But after patrolling the neighborhood and seeing firsthand how stormwater is redirected by downspouts, gutter systems, slanted rooftops and alley ways, Bustos said it became clear to her why it was important to collect this data: If no one knows where their water goes and how it gets there, how can they understand how to resolve community-wide problems like sewer overflows, which lead to personal problems like backyard, alley and basement flooding?
To learn more about the Milwaukee Avenue Green Development Corridor and programs in Chicagoland that are available to help with stormwater management, check out these resources:
The WOWW Factor
The amount of funding available through the Milwaukee Avenue Green Development Corridor to reimburse property owners for approved stormwater remediation projects.
The total amount of funding available through the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency’s Green Infrastructure Grant program.
Open space acres in all of Logan Square, one of Chicago’s most paved-over neighborhoods.
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