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The Panthers are a green luminary.

Green luminary: UW-Milwaukee

To help highlight MMSD Green Luminaries awards, we're focusing on the winners by asking about their practices and new environmental approaches.

MMSD's goal is to create enough green infrastructure in the region to capture 740 million gallons of water every time it rains, to reduce water pollution and improve Lake Michigan and our rivers.

Last month, we talked to Summerfest.

Today, it's the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM). I talked to Kate M. Nelson, the chief sustainability officer at the university.

Managing 16.5 million gallons of water a year with green infrastructure, UW-Milwaukee is making great strides reducing water pollution in a heavily urbanized area.

OnMilwaukee: What's your biggest environmental challenge at UWM?

Kate Nelson: The biggest environmental challenge? Stormwater runoff. Our biggest challenge overall? Lack of state funding to properly maintain our built environment.

OnMilwaukee: Managing 16.5 million gallons of water a year with green infrastructure isn't easy. How does UWM accomplish this?

Nelson: Through a series of cisterns – above and below ground – green roofs and rain gardens.

OnMilwaukee: How can students best contribute to your efforts?

Nelson: Design new systems and help to maintain and restore native, natural areas on campus. We are currently doing a seed collection with students in order to keep our native areas healthy next year.

OnMilwaukee: What's on your project wish list?

Nelson: Completely transition the concrete heavy southwest quad of campus into an urban wetland, friendly to human and environmental ecology.

OnMilwaukee: Define success from an environmental impact standpoint for UWM.

Nelson: The success of our environmental impact is contingent on a successfully engaged student body, that lives and learns about sustainability from UWM as a living laboratory of sustainable practices.


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