The Milwaukee Common Council should vote to support the proposed plan to remove the Estabrook Dam. The recent proposal by Milwaukee County, the City of Milwaukee and the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District is not only the right thing to do for taxpayers, safety and the environment, but it is also a shining example of regional cooperation around water issues. The proposal includes a precise and limited temporary transfer of property between public agencies. It is a one-of-a-kind surgical transaction that will ultimately better our entire region.
To date, more than a dozen agencies, governments and organizations have taken a position supporting removal. Moreover, thousands—not hundreds, but thousands—of people have spoken out in favor of this dam removal. You would be hard-pressed to find a local environmental issue with such a diversity of support. Why?
Because removing the Estabrook Dam follows a national trend in removing aging infrastructure that poses a risk to public safety. Because removing the Estabrook Dam follows a local trend sustainably investing in the health and betterment of natural waterways. And because removing the Estabrook Dam will free up money for Milwaukee County projects that provide much greater benefit to the public.
As the self-proclaimed freshwater capital of the world, we should be following national trends, investing in sustainable improvements to our waterways and public health. We commend the City, MMSD and the County for their leadership on this issue. But removing the Estabrook Dam is more than an opportunity for the City of Milwaukee to be on the forefront of the national trend in removing aging and dangerous infrastructure or saving money.
Removing the Estabrook Dam is a generational opportunity. This decision will ultimately underlie the legacy we choose to leave our children and our grandchildren. Removal of the dam is the only resolution that fits within the goals and missions all of the environmental, wildlife and fishing groups who have been working to restore and protect our watersheds over the years. It also makes all the sense in the world for the Floodplain Manager to control a nuisance condition in the river that impacts flooding. It’s past the time for this dilapidated, 80-year old structure to go and for the river to once again flow free.
This is a guest editorial submitted by Jennifer Bolger Breceda, Executive Director of Milwaukee Riverkeeper