Milwaukee Gets $1M From EPA To Install ‘Green Alleys’

Porous Pavement Can Filter Rain And Snowmelt, Reducing Stormwater Runoff

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A demonstration of porous pavement. Photo: J.J. Harrison (CC-BY-SA)

A federal grant of $1 million will be given to Milwaukee to help install alleys and sidewalks that let rain and snowmelt filter through in order to reduce stormwater runoff.

Environmental Protection Agency officials have been handing out a new round of Great Lakes Restoration Initiative grants to lakeside cities. Milwaukee will get $1 million in federal money and put up $2 million in local funds to install porous pavement when the city reconstructs seven alleys, sidewalks outside 68 properties, and a large parking lot outside a city garage.

EPA regional administrator Susan Hedman said the federal grant was approved because porous pavement lets stormwater go into the ground to be filtered and not head directly to rivers and lakes.

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“They’re an excellent complement to the large sewage tunnels and sanitary sewers and stormwater sewers that already exist in the city,” said Hedman. “It is a way of capturing water where it falls.”

Sometimes porous pavement is criticized for not being as stable, durable or as smooth as standard asphalt or concrete. Milwaukee Public Works Commissioner Ghassan Korban, however, said he’s been happy with local experiments with the porous material.

“There is one project, which is the Reed Street Yards, which will use pavers in the parking lanes to basically capture the water,” said Korban. “It’s definitely textured – if you drive on it you have a slight feel difference than on the concrete or on the asphalt. But definitely not in an adverse way, by any means.”

The “green alleys” in Milwaukee will have a four-foot wide strip of porous pavement down the middle, with eight feet on each side using conventional pavement.

Racine also got an EPA grant today to install stormwater retention basins near Lake Michigan.

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