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 recently giving the overall health of the river a "D+" on their 2018 report card, dropping from the C- grade in 2017. While the overall health grade of the river has declined, amazing efforts are still 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

In each Healthy River Community, 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.



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 property consultations, property owner workshops, family friendly programming and more that makes the problems (and more importantly, their solutions!) easy to understand and act on.



Working hand in hand with residents, land owners, elected officials, scientists, and stakeholder groups, we'll coordinate programs, 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.


Where we're headed.

In 2017, we launched the Community Rivers Program with our neighbors in the Village of Newburg, the first Healthy River Community in the state. In 2018, we were pleased to have the Villages of Saukville and Grafton join Newburg. Now in the summer of 2020, we’re so excited to have the Villages of Fredonia and Kewaskum join the Community Rivers family!

We won't be stopping there, however! Each year, the Community Rivers Program will work hand-in-hand with new towns, villages, or cities to become a Healthy River Community and to inspire new connections with and care for their stretch of the Milwaukee River.

Click HERE to view our 2019 Impact Report.

Upcoming Events

Ready to join the excitement? Here’s a sneak peak at the events we have planned for our 2020 Healthy Rivers Communities. The best part? All activities are FREE to CRP residents. Keep checking for updates on events as the seasons change.

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

You can also check our Facebook page for more information on upcoming events!

CRP residents are invited to the upcoming programs...


All CRP Villages

*Events for all residents are open to those residing in the villages of Grafton, Saukville, Newburg, Kewaskum, and Fredonia.

Crayfishing with Jake, Saturday August 22 from 10 AM to 12 PM
Come learn about the crayfish that live in the Milwaukee River, right here at Riveredge! Not only will you see crayfish up close, but you'll learn to safely catch and release them! Please wear closed-toed shoes and be prepared to get in the river! We will meet at the Riveredge Nature Center parking lot. Cost is free. No registration required. Face masks are encouraged!
Macro-invertebrate Introduction, Saturday August 29 from 10 AM to 12 PM
Have you ever seen a macro-invertebrate? This event is a great chance to see them up close and learn about the various critters that call the Milwaukee River home. We will spend the morning catching and identifying various macro-invertebrates and then exploring their importance for the river's water quality. Please wear closed-toed shoes and be prepared to get in the river! We will meet in the Riveredge Nature Center parking lot. Cost is free. No registration required. Face masks are encouraged!
Watershed Tour: Join the Caravan! Saturday September 19th from 9 AM to 4 PM
Hop in your car and safely caravan around the Milwaukee River Watershed with the Community Rivers Program! Our day is intended for CRP Village residents and will be spent stopping at various locations throughout the watershed to learn about what other individuals and organizations are doing to help improve the health and quality of our waters. We will begin the tour by meeting at Riveredge Nature Center and then depart separately to our first location. A free catered lunch will be provided. Masks are encouraged. If you are interested in participating, please click here to register. Space is limited.
Kayak Clean Up, Saturday September 26th from 10 - 12 PM at Veteran's Memorial Park
Join Riveredge Nature Center and the Community Rivers Program as we eliminate trash from the Milwaukee River via a kayak clean up. This program was inspired by Alice Wilson, A Milwaukee-based artist, has recently hit the river not just to recreate, but to work with the community to collect and eliminate trash from the Milwaukee River watershed. Space is limited to 10 helping hands over the age of 15. Bags, gloves, and kayaks will be provided! Feel free to join us if you have your own kayak to contribute to this clean up effort. Masks encouraged, especially during kayak launching.

Program and Kayak use is free but registration is required; donations are being welcomed to support Alice’s efforts and the Community Rivers Program.

Please click here to register.


Village of Grafton

Kayaking the Milwaukee River, Friday, August 28 from 5-7:00pm at Veteran’s Park, Grafton

Paddling takes a mix of knowledge and skills! Grafton residents are invited to join a Riveredge Adventure Guide at Veterans Memorial Park for an unforgettable evening paddling experience that will begin with safety and end with a splash! The best part? Grafton residents will have the chance to learn about their river and do it for free! We will use 1 person kayaks. Ages 10+.

Cost: FREE, but open to Grafton Residents only through the Community Rivers Program.

Registration is available through the Grafton Parks and Rec Department by clicking here.


Village of Fredonia

Stoney Creek Park Cleanup, Saturday, August 8 from 8am-12pm at Stoney Creek Park, Fredonia

Residents are invited to join a small crew of helping hands to cleanup the Stoney Creek Park area. Our goal is to remove some of the invasive species, trim dead branches from larger trees, and remove any litter refuse along the creek.

Please bring yard work or gardening gloves and wear close-toed shoes. Hand tools and guidance will be provided. Face coverings are encouraged but not required. Click here to register

Call for Storm Drain Painting Artists

The majority of the Milwaukee River and its tributaries are listed as impaired by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, which means that the habitats are not suitable for aquatic life. Stormwater runoff is a major contributing factor to this. As stormwater picks up and carries various pollutants and other nutrients, they are washed into our streets, down our storm drains and can harm fish, wildlife habitats, and human communities.


The goal of CRP is to inspire, educate, and engage community residents in behavioral changes that will eventually lead to improved health of the Milwaukee River. The goal of the storm drain painting project is to passively inspire residents to be better water stewards while educating them about how stormwater impacts our water resources and the life of a river.


Theme: Healthy waterways and Importance of clean water to supporting life.


Painting Requirements: Paintings are 5’X5’ sidewalk square, not on the red decorative square, designs and final locations will be approved prior to painting.


Stipend: $100.00 for each artist which can be used to purchase supplies for artwork.


Art Design Approval: The Village Board of Grafton must approve all design submissions before the project can be implemented. Artists will be notified of design approval ASAP.

For more information regarding the storm drain painting, entry requirements, or the application process, please reach out to Patricia Gerber at

Do you belong to a service club or school group?

If you have a school or club group looking for a fun activity to do, and help the Milwaukee River, we will work with you to schedule storm drain stenciling, river cleanups, or other service projects that will help keep your community a Healthy River Community.

FREE Yard or Land Assessment

The Community Rivers Program is offering FREE 1 hour land consultations of any size residential property in all five CRP participating communities- Newburg, Grafton, Saukville, Fredonia, and Kewaskum.

If you are interested please contact: Matt Smith | Land Manager | | (262) 375-2715 ext 147

Let's connect!

If you have any questions regarding the Community Rivers Program, would like more information, or want to get involved, please let us know! You can use this contact form to get in touch or you can reach out to Patricia Gerber, Riveredge's Community Rivers Coordinator, at (262)375-2715. We look forward to connecting with you!

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The Community Rivers Program is an initiative of...