On May 12, Milwaukee Water Commons hosted its Confluence Gathering, an event to launch a series of bold water initiatives for the city of Milwaukee under the banner of the "Water City Agenda." Over 300 people were in attendance along with the coalition of more than 30 organizations Milwaukee Water Commons has galvanized. Together, this leadership from across Milwaukee is taking concrete steps to make the following vision a reality:
- Milwaukee is a national leader in blue-green jobs.
- Safe, clean and affordable tap water is available to every Milwaukeean.
- We significantly advance green infrastructure practices across the city.
- Our three rivers and Lake Michigan are swimmable and fishable.
- Every Milwaukeean has meaningful water experiences.
- Milwaukee celebrates our waters in arts and culture.
"We know it’s a tall order, and we’re aiming big because it’s what the people want," said Ann Brummitt, Executive Director of Milwaukee Water Commons. "We’ve spent two years engaging over 1300 Milwaukeeans from every part of our city to put these initiatives together, and we heard the message loud and clear – we’re ready for big change. We’re excited to work with so many partners to make these things happen for our water future. This is incredibly hopeful work."
The UWM School of Freshwater Sciences and the Metropolitan Milwaukee Sewerage District are two of the institutional partners in Milwaukee Water Commons coalition of leaders. "The science is there, the tools are available, and our water policy researchers are ready to help turn these transformative ideas into reality," said Jenny Kehl, Director of the Center for Water Policy at UWM.
Kevin Shafer, Executive Director at MMSD, agrees. "MMSD works every day to bring innovative, sustainable infrastructure to more neighborhoods across our region. The work we’re doing with Milwaukee Water Commons is a perfect complement to this, and we’re always working to take on bigger challenges, to make a bolder difference."
Alice’s Garden, a nonprofit community garden in the Johnson’s Park Neighborhood, is also a member of this leadership coalition. Venice Williams, Director of Alice's Garden, had this to say: "When I am in my communities speaking about the value of our water, and how we must honor and respect it, my words are often dismissed and challenged," said Williams. "We have taken it for granted, and misused it for so long. The work Milwaukee Water Commons has taken on is some of the most important work this city will do. It is about preserving the dignity of the ancestral waters of Lake Michigan. It is also about helping every human being who quenches their thirst, bathes their body, rinses their clothes, mops their floors, enjoys their cup of tea to understand one cannot exist without water."
"Milwaukee has the needed ingenuity, creativity and expertise to become a model water city," said Brummitt. "We believe everyone, everywhere has a vital role to play in this effort."
In partnership with the coalition of leaders the organization has galvanized, Milwaukee Water Commons will continue to facilitate this important effort to transform Milwaukee's water future.