Water Quality

Our personal connections with water are formed through our experiences, such as swimming, boating, fishing, shoreline walking and sitting by the edge of the water, soaking our feet.  When people are connected to water in these ways, they come to care for them and often become better stewards. 


Improving water quality in Milwaukee's rivers and Lake Michigan, therefore, is connected to naturalizing our city's waterways and better enabling community members to appreciate and value them.  Natural rivers and lakeshores are also the most efficient way to ensure the best water quality and provide buffers from future environmental and weather risk, more so than man-made alterations.


Cream City Classic-Milwaukee's 1St Open
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  • All three rivers and Lake Michigan are clean, fishable and swimmable.

  • All three rivers and their greenways are naturalized.

  • Increase the number of swimmable days in rivers and Lake Michigan by 80%.


 Branch Out Milwaukee

A collectively organized campaign to maximize the benefit of Milwaukee's canopy by focusing on equity, public health, environmental health, climate resilience, and workforce development.


 Climate change, invasive pests, and diseases (such as Emerald Ash Borer, and Dutch Elm Disease) have been reshaping Milwaukee’s environment and decimating Milwaukee’s canopy. Our approach to reforesting has left Milwaukee’s marginalized and under-served neighborhoods with the least access to trees, amplifying problems with urban flooding, urban heat islands, and poor air quality.

Trees have far-reaching benefits for environmental health, air and water quality, public health, and quality of life. Tree planting and maintenance have a major impact on the lives of Milwaukee’s residents and make excellent blue-green jobs! The Branch Out Milwaukee campaign has been successful in connecting organizations focused on public health, environmental health, and workforce development to envision a future for Milwaukee’s canopy and communities that is equitable and sustainable.


Through collaboration and collective action, partners across sectors are organizing to work with Milwaukee’s communities to maximize the benefits of Milwaukee’s canopy. 

Our Branch Out Milwaukee Master Plan is a shared agenda for solving complex problems associated with Milwaukee’s canopy. It lays out goals, frameworks, and strategies that partners from different sectors around Milwaukee have shaped to guide collective action towards fostering a healthy canopy and healthy communities in Milwaukee’s neighborhoods.

For more information on our Water Quality initiative, please contact our Water City Program Coordinator, Joe Fitzgerald, at jfitzgerald(at)milwaukeewatercommons.org or (414)763-6199.