Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
Race / Ethnicity
Project Milwaukee
Springing from conversations with concerned community members, WUWM journalists developed Project Milwaukee -- in-depth reporting on vital issues in the region. Each Project Milwaukee consists of WUWM News reporters and Lake Effect producers teaming up to create a series of interviews and reports on a specific topic culminating in a public forum or live broadcast.WUWM tackles subjects of importance to southeastern Wisconsin by focusing on issues that warrant extensive coverage. The topics chosen are based on concerns we've heard from residents and community leaders.WUWM hopes that our coverage helps to further the understanding of broad, significant subjects, and encourages additional debate in the community.WUWM's Project Milwaukee. Our region. Our future.------------------------------------------------------------------PROJECT MILWAUKEE SERIES ARCHIVEGreat Lakes, Troubled Waters - May 2019With our proximity to Lake Michigan and world-class water research, why don't we have clean water?To Protect And Serve - March 2018Police, Community & A Time of TransitionSegregation Matters - March 2017Innovation - How Do We Compete? - February 2016Black Men in Prison - November 2013Why are so many Wisconsinites behind bars? And, what are the costs?Power Switch - June 2013The Promise and Reality of Green Energy in WisconsinHelp Wanted - October 2012Uncovering the Truth Behind Wisconsin's Skills GapState of Upheaval - December 2011Southern Connections - June 2011Cultivating a Regional CorridorWhat's On Our Plate? - November 2010The Impact of Wisconsin's Food EconomyBarriers to Achievement in MPS - June 2010The Currency of Water - December 2009Black & White - June 2009Race Relations in MilwaukeeWise Today, Well Tomorrow? - November 2008Youth Violence - June 2008Creating a Vibrant Regional Economy - November 2007

Young People Of Color Lend Their Voices To Water Issues In Milwaukee

Teran Powell
Cream City Conservation Corps members pose for a photo outside of Escuela Verde in the Silver City neighborhood.

In discussions about the health and safety of water, it’s typical to hear from experts, public health officials and government leaders. But you don't often get the opinions of younger people who are just beginning to learn and care about natural resources.

Young people working with Cream City Conservation Corps are having some real conversations about the environment. August Ball leads the discussion at the group’s regular Tuesday night meeting in the Silver City neighborhood on Milwaukee's south side.

» See More Project Milwaukee: Great Lakes, Troubled Waters Reports

Credit Teran Powell
Cream City Conservation Corps founder August Ball leads a class discussion.

After noticing a disconnect between young people of color and the environment, Ball founded Cream City Conservation Corps.

Much, she says, has to do with environmental racism: the disproportionate impact of environmental hazards on people of color. For example, pollutants from power plant smokestacks that can contribute to asthma and other respiratory diseases.

The Conservation Corps members range in age. Some are in high school, others in college, and some are working adults. Through the Corps, they go into communities to work on projects, such as installing green-infrastructure and revitalizing green spaces.

They also learn about environmental concerns. Some members are worried about being exposed to lead in drinking water. Lead can flake off aging pipes, and flow into faucets, including in older homes.

READ: What Milwaukee's Lead Problem Means For Children

"A lot of rumors go around saying there’s lead in the water and all different kinds of stuff. So, for us to figure out how to get it more clean for us to drink it I feel like we should do that more, and more people should get involved with it," says Mariah Merriweather.

Noelia Lope'z thinks lead should be talked about more often and more in-depth, as should other threats to water.

“With school and everything, there’s only one secure water fountain on each floor that no lead. We have a teacher that has a water jug and he offers it to almost everybody," she says. "Other than that, I feel like it should be a bigger thing talked about. I feel like it isn’t. Like, 'Oh yeah, lead,' but I feel like that’s as much as it’s talked about. It should be an actual serious thing. People can get sick off of that."


"I feel like they don't care about us. You gotta think about what's actually going on — you can't drink water," says Naeem Hunter.

Naeem Hunter points out the importance of water.

"I don’t want to sound like a conspiracy theorist, but I really understand, I feel like they don’t care about us. You gotta think about what’s actually going on — you can’t drink water … that’s the first step of survival. Not from a mental perspective, but physical existence. You need to drink water to be able to do anything after that," Hunter says.

While they have concerns about being exposed to lead in drinking water, they say they have hope going forward. They plan to help educate younger people about the potential risk, and teach them what to do to make sure what they drink is safe.

Support for Race & Ethnicity reporting is provided by the Dohmen Company.


Do you have a question about race in Milwaukee that you'd like WUWM's Teran Powell to explore? Submit it below.


Related Content