Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Earth Day Story - UWM Handling Stormwater Creatively on Urban Campus

Susan Bence

Monday marks Earth Day. What has blossomed into an international event, stemmed from the spirit of the late Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin.

The U.S. Senator inspired millions of people around the world to address dangers threatening the environment.

One local woman has taken on the challenge at University of Wisconsin Milwaukee.
Head of campus sustainability, Kate Nelson isn’t satisfied with simply “reducing and recycling”, she’s hoping to leave an impression on staff and students alike.

Nelson leaves no educational opportunity unturned - that includes the waste bins - one labeled recycling; the other landfill.

"We have simplified things with the reality that trash isn't trash; it's ultimately going to a landfill. It's sort of a five second awakening to where our trash is really going."

Nelson gave WUWM Environmental Reporter Susan Bence a short tour to highlight some of the “green” projects on campus – including the Sandburg gardens. Nelson says they were intentionally positioned to give students a birds eye view of growing vegetables from the dorm dining room.

"The intention was to provide a space for restaurant operations to grow their own food, to have a fruit and nut orchard and a true community space that we all share."

Students designed the garden.

The next big step will be to install a storm water harvesting system.

"To not only manage the water on site that is running down a slope and creating a muddy stream, but then to actually collect that water to water the gardens as well."

You’ll be hearing more this week from the UWM news team on green and sustainable themes. Susan Bence will look at the concern of local conservationists about environmental challenges facing butterflies and bees.

Credit Susan Bence
Kate Nelson heads UWM's sustainability initiatives. She hopes to engineer a stormwater harvesting system starting at the spot she's standing. It would reduce runoff - visible behind her - and water a vegetable garden.