Is the Proposed Dredged Material Management Facility an Opportunity for the Community?

The Milwaukee Estuary Area of Concern spans roughly 10 miles spread across three rivers and includes Milwaukee’s inner and outer harbor. Cleaning this area requires dredging the riverbeds and lakebed to remove contaminated sediment, but where does it go? The current preferred option is a new Dredged Material Management Facility — an in-lake landfill on the east side of Jones Island. This research explores the legal issues around this facility including: What is public enough to satisfy the public trust doctrine? Can the state and other developers exclude the public? What are the permissible uses on the newly created land?

The Center’s researchers Sarah Martinez and Melissa Scanlan conducted a legal analysis and recently published their findings in their article, “Great Lakes Restoration and the Public Trust Doctrine: Milwaukee’s Restoration Obstacles and Opportunities” in Sea Grant Law & Policy Journal Vol 12:1 (2022).

You can also watch our January 2022 Public Rights in Milwaukee’s Fresh Cost panel discuss this topic and others here.

October 2022 Public Rights in MKE Fresh Coast Policy Brief