St. Francis — What happens to stormwater after it hits the ground? This summer, those who live in St. Francis have a unique opportunity to learn about their role in the stormwater equation.

In St. Francis, stormwater is managed by the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District (MMSD), the city Department of Public Works, and property owners. Each plays a part to improve water quality in area rivers and Lake Michigan, reduce the risk of flooding and basement backups, and keep costs manageable.

In 2016, MMSD is partnering with the city to present St. Francis Green Summer. All summer long, MMSD and the city will be working with residents to explore what it takes to install green infrastructure on residential properties.

Green infrastructure

Green infrastructure manages water where it falls. For residential homes in St. Francis, three of the easiest types of green infrastructure include:

  • Rain Barrels. Installed in minutes, rain barrels capture water directly from you downspouts. After the storms end, you can use the water for your garden. Free water by the barrel!
  • Rain Gardens. Dig a garden bed, route your downspouts into it, and plant native flowers and grasses. They can soak up a lot of water, and rain gardens can enhance your yard, with exciting wildflower drifts or a formal, classic garden design.
  • Soil Amendments. Just by adding a layer of compost, you can turn your lawn into a rainwater sponge. The compost breaks down quickly – no bad smells – and your grass will thank you for the natural fertilizer by becoming healthy and lush.

Getting involved

The city and MMSD are trying to make it easy for residents to be part of St. Francis Green Summer.

Team members can come to talk anyone interested and will do all the work for those who are willing to host an informal backyard gathering. All that is required of the host is to provide a list of three or four neighbors who might like to learn about green infrastructure while MMSD installs a free rain barrel at your house.

The effort will also expand into community and neighborhood events this summer. For more information, check out at “StFrancisGreenSummer” on Facebook, email or 414-299-0777.

A version of this article originally appeared under Your Stories on

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