It wasn’t too long ago that a desolate piece of land just north of Capitol Drive, surrounded by railroad tracks to the west and 31st Street to the east, was completely devastated. Today it is a thriving green space called Green technology station designed to capture rainwater. The project can be shot this Saturday as part of Doors Open Milwaukee.
The Wisconsin Independent Oil Company originally operated at the site, according to Tory Kress of the City of Milwaukee Redevelopment Authority.
“We knew there were brownfield issues because there was bulk oil storage at the site for a very, very long time, so we were concerned about what we were going to find out here,” Kress said. “We wrote an EPA brownfield cleanup grant, but we sort of weren’t sure exactly how we were going to get it out of the ground.”
This is where the partners, starting with Community development company on the northwest side, entered the picture. Community development manager Sarah Bregant said her office was just steps away.
“So we can see the space from our window and once we see the city has been entered, [we thought] like what’s the next step for this site? “Bregant said.” Maybe we can step in as a nonprofit, write grants, maybe get different funding and really make it a space. cool green. “
Bregant said as the partners multiplied and their vision evolved: “It is now a water-focused environmental education destination, around outdoor education facilities. We can therefore show groups. “
Student interns benches painted with aquatic motifs grouped under a pavilion in the heart of the space.
“And the other great work of art is the mosaic of bottle caps that went up on the fence, so there are about 12,000 bottle caps that were collected that were screwed onto these 4×4 foot panels and then mounted on the fence. “
They spell out the words Green Tech Station.
On the infrastructure side, the station’s biological gullies and wetland-mimicking systems are designed to capture up to 100,000 gallons of stormwater at a time.
An underground cistern holds 20,000 gallons which can irrigate plants and trees or can be slowly released into the sewer system.
Hydrologist Nick Buer said his agency, the US Geological Survey, was also involved in the project – tracking precipitation as well as stormwater-carried contaminants at the site.
“We watch everything. Your standard stuff like phosphorus, sediment, metals, but then we’re going to start looking at PAHs, pesticides, pharmaceuticals; kind of anything we can throw at our urban environment that’s out there, ”Buer said. “We’re trying to see what’s going on in the water and then what the soil is filtering, basically. So what are all these plants and what is the soil doing to kill them. “
Tony Parolari teaches civil engineering at Marquette University. It taps into another vision of the Green Tech Station to encourage innovation in green infrastructure.
Parolari students recently filled white plastic barrels – think of a rain barrel without a cover – with different soil combinations.
“Half of the barrels have boiler slag, [an] industrial bioproduct mixed with these which has been reported to be good at absorbing phosphorus, ”Parolari said. “In general, we are interested in how we can better design soils and vegetation in green infrastructure, in organic drains in particular.”
Not far from the Parolari project, researchers and entrepreneurs will be able to pilot green technologies on a series of 30 test cells built above the large underground cistern.
The test area was designed by another local partner, Reflo.
“One of the thoughts [is to test] different types of porous pavements and see how well they adapt to Wisconsin conditions, ”said Reflo intern coordinator Wilniesha Smith. “And being able to demonstrate with the cistern underneath, instead of bringing water in there, we have the water that can be pumped.”
Sarah Bregant of the Northwest Side Community Development Corporation believes the Green Tech Station has incredible potential, including career exploration.
“And reimagine what the 30th Street hallway can be like on some of the plots we left behind from Milwaukee’s industrial past,” Bregant said. “But there are other ways to reimagine these sites that serve a 21st century purpose, and then really kind of revitalize the land and nature in the process.
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