Green Tech Station, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA
On Milwaukee's northwest side, a vacant brownfield site is being transformed into a destination for environmental education and water technology innovation and research.
Together, the city of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA and the Northwest Side Community Development Corporation (NWSCDC), with help from Ramboll, are creating Green Tech Station, a green infrastructure research and education facility. The project involves building an educational test plaza on the 3-acre urban brownfield property with space for 20 pilot projects associated with stormwater and filtration technology, using an on-site 20,000-gallon underground water tank and pumping system.
Plans for research at the new facility include measuring the water treatment capabilities of bioswales with different soils and plant species, the stormwater infiltration rate of different permeable paver technologies, and the potential for uptake of contaminants by fruit trees. In addition to the test plaza, the site has four bioswales to capture stormwater, a rain garden and rain barrels, a wetland, native prairie areas, 440 newly-planted trees and walking paths. Solar panels will provide power to the site for irrigation, research and educational purposes.
“We are very proud of this project and the work of our water and environment & health experts in contributing creative approaches to nature-based remediation and redevelopment,” says Laurie Parsons, a Senior Vice President for Ramboll in the Americas. “Together with our partners and help from community volunteers, we are cleaning the site in a way that is also benefiting the local community through education and flood prevention.”
Along with opportunities for researchers and water tech companies to demonstrate and test new products, future project phases will create a mobile classroom for local schools and neighborhood groups to learn about green technologies and water conservation. The site also provides significant capacity to capture stormwater from the site and associated roadway, providing relief to an area that experiences routine flooding during large rain events.
Throughout the project, the Ramboll team has provided technical consulting on behalf of NWSCDC for collaborative site remediation and redevelopment. A former industrial property with multiple above ground fuel storage tanks, the site was characterized by soil and groundwater containing petroleum-related contaminants and located in an area prone to flooding during large rain events.
Creative approaches were used to address these challenges, such as planting trees to increase stormwater uptakean idea that had the added benefit of using phytoremediation to remove soil and groundwater contamination. The project team also secured funding from several sources, including a US Forest Service Grant Great Lakes Restoration Initiative grant, a Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District Green Infrastructure Partnership Program grant, and a US EPA Brownfields grant, helping drive the project’s success.