Coming Together For Clean Water

We all benefit from having clean and healthy rivers. That's why we're coming together as a community to plan, design, and build projects that will keep our stretch of the Milwaukee River beautiful and livable for generations to come.

The Need


Pollution continues to be a serious concern in the Milwaukee River, with our friends at Milwaukee Riverkeeper only giving the overall health of the river a "C" on their most recent report card.  Amazing efforts are being made in Milwaukee's urban areas to improve the health of the river, but less attention has been paid to rural and suburban parts of the watershed. We know making a river that is swimmable, fishable, and liveable for all requires the cooperation and effort of all communities along its banks, and we want to help do just that


Connecting rural and suburban communities with their watershed to inspire appreciation, educate, and enable positive land management changes.


Healthier ecosystems and communities within the Upper Milwaukee River Watershed.

How It Works

Starting with the Village of Newburg, we're taking a three pronged approach to transforming a community's relationship with the Milwaukee River. Ultimately, we hope to develop a model that is replicable across the region, creating long term sustainability in the health of the Milwaukee River watershed. In each participating community, we'll work to:



We protect the things we care about. That's why one of the first steps of the project is reaching out to residents and helping them to develop a passion for and connection with the Milwaukee River watershed right in their own backyards! From kayaking programs to community wide festivals to door to wastershed tours to tours of homes, we want to make sure everyone sees and feels the incredible value of being a Milwaukee River community.

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We know most people want to make a difference, and that often the only thing holding them back is the knowledge of what they can do. That's why we'll be offering one-on-one programming, property owner workshops, water quality monitoring, storm drain stenciling, and more that makes the problems (and more importantly, their solutions!) easy to understand and act on.

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Working hand in hand with land owners, elected officials, scientists, and stakeholder groups, we'll coordinate discussions, trainings, and resources aimed at empowering communities and their residents to implement best practices for keeping their river healthy and clean. This isn't top-down regulation, but instead bottom-up change emanating from community members working together to design a plan that best fits their own town, village, or city.

Upcoming Events

We've already got some great community events planned for Newburg residents as part of the project, but we're just getting started! Stay tuned for more or let us know if you've got ideas of your own!

Newburg residents- want to stay updated on all the fun? Sign up here for the Community Rivers email list and we'll share upcoming events!

July 9 - Rain Barrel Worksop (More Info)

July 26 - Webinar: Helping Residents Manage Stormwater 

August 19 - Newburg Community Festival

September 14- Community Conversation: Developing a State of Engaged Water Thinkers

September 22 - Kayak & Canoe the Milwaukee River

October 8 - Kayaking the Milwaukee River


Where we're headed.

In the first year of the project, we're very excited to be working with our good friends in the Village of Newburg, the very first Healthy River Community in the state. 

We won't be stopping there, however! Each year, the Community Rivers Project will work hand-in-hand with a new town, village, or city to become a Healthy River Community and to complete the year-long journey inspiring new connection with and care for their stretch of the Milwaukee River. 

The Community Rivers Project is an initiative of...

Say Hi

We've got some great interns helping make this project a reality. Learn a little bit more about them below, and be sure to say hi if you see them around town! Huge thanks to Sweet Water and the Dutton Foundation for funding these positions. 


Melanie Kohls

Community Outreach Coordinator/Water Literacy Intern
As a recent UW-Madison graduate (2016), Melanie is excited to start applying her environmental studies background to the real world. “The Community Rivers Project will allow me to help bring people and nature together, in my home state. I look forward to meeting Newburg’s residents through the project and working together to raise awareness of, and love for, our rivers!” When not at Riveredge, Melanie loves biking, running and hiking around Wisconsin, usually with camera in hand.

Kendra Swanson

Community Outreach Coordinator
Kendra is currently the Scientist in Residence for the Cedarburg School District. Prior to this position, she spent several years revolving around the Northern Illinois hardwoods and prairies. She was born in rural South Dakota, resulting in an early-onset love of snakes and good reason for a lifetime of missing pop cultural references. She graduated from Luther College in 2007 with a BA in Early English Literature and Applied Arts, and from Northern Illinois University in 2011 with an MS Ed in Curriculum and Instruction, and a certificate in Environmental Education.

Let's work together

If you have any questions on the Community Rivers Project, would like more information, or just want to get involved, please don't hesitate to reach out to Mandie Zopp, Riveredge's Director of Research and Conservation, at 262-375-2715,, or through this contact form! We look forward to connecting with you!


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