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Natural Awakenings Milwaukee

Letter from Publisher

Historic Milwaukee recently hosted its annual Doors Open event, which provides the public with two days of free access to more than 170 buildings and 30 tours across Milwaukee. This year’s grand celebration of the city’s history, architecture and neighborhoods included a Fund for Lake Michigan Water Passport, allowing participants to explore two innovative water institutions: the Jones Island Water Reclamation Facility and the UWM School of Freshwater Sciences. The technology and ingenuity required to preserve Milwaukee’s freshwater resources now and in the future requires the collaboration of many passionate and brilliant minds.

Over the past few decades, Milwaukee has recommitted to its stewardship of the Lake Michigan watershed: the Kinnickinnic, Menomonee and Milwaukee rivers all lead to our source of drinking water. Our vital waterways also provide nautical recreation and placid backdrops for joggers, walkers, cyclists and picnickers. Organizations such as Milwaukee Riverkeeper, a science-based advocacy group working for swimmable, fishable rivers throughout the Milwaukee River Basin, organize river cleanups and regularly monitor water quality and river aesthetics. Milwaukee’s Water Centric City Initiative showcases leadership in managing natural water resource assets in a sustainable and resilient way. Madison-based Midwest Environmental Advocates—a nonprofit environmental law center that works for healthy water, air and land—collaborates with citizen activists in efforts to protect the Great Lakes and other waterways from pollution.

Many of us feel empowered by joining a group or participating in an organized event to help keep our water clean; however, simple everyday actions can also make a significant difference. Respect Our Waters, an educational campaign of the Southeastern Wisconsin Watershed Trust, encourages citizens to adopt a storm drain grate near their homes. Keeping storm drains clear from leaves, grass clippings and other litter helps prevent stormwater from washing debris down drains and into waterways. Picking up litter and pet waste, using environmentally safe lawn care products and preventing vehicle fluids from leaking helps protect the watershed from nonpoint source pollution, which occurs when rainwater or snowmelt runs over surfaces and carries pollutants into ground waters, lakes, rivers, wetlands and eventually coastal waters. Using nontoxic household cleaners and toiletries keeps phosphorous, microplastics and other toxins from swirling down home drains and eventually reaching water sources.

Through awareness, education and action, we can all form healthy habits to protect our most vital, life-sustaining resource: water.

With respect and gratitude for nature’s bounty,

Gabriella Buchnik, Publisher