Adopt-A-River Program

Join as an individual, company, organization or community group!

Milwaukee Riverkeeper launched its Adopt-A-River Program in 2017 with support from Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District in an effort to connect more people to our waterways.

Make A Difference, Big and Small!

Trash gets into our rivers in a lot of different ways: stormwater runoff, littering, strong winds, or illegal dumping. So that means we find a lot of different kinds of trash in our rivers: couches, tires, fenders, bottles, cans, wrappers, and straws. No matter how SMALL, any piece of trash can have a BIG impact on fish and other aquatic animals. Be on the lookout for some of these common items!

Large debris includes items like couches, shopping carts, tires, and car parts. While it can be exciting to find these items and pull them out of the river, we only ask people to attempt this if they have the right experience and the proper equipment.

Macroplastics are any type of plastic larger than 5 millimeters including plastic bags, bottles, bottle lids, food wrappers or cigarette butts. Other small debris might include clothing, aluminum cans, glass bottles, construction debris

Microplastics are any type of plastic smaller than 5 millimeters. Microplastics come from a variety of sources, including larger plastic debris that degrades into smaller pieces. These tiny particles travel easily over land and end up in our rivers and Great Lakes.

Adopt-A-River Program Map

Check out where current Adopters are cleaning up and what sections still need some love!

Map Key
Areas in LIGHT BLUE have already been adopted, however more than one adopter can select a site.
Areas in GOLD are open to public adoption.
Areas in DARK BLUE are restricted to the property owners of that site.


Who can adopt a river?

Anyone! The program allows individuals, companies, organizations, or community groups to adopt sections of waterways in the Milwaukee River Basin.

What do I have to do?

Adopters commit to cleaning their adopted section of the river two times per year!

Where can I adopt a river?

Anywhere in the Milwaukee River Basin, which includes reaches along the Milwaukee, Menomonee, and Kinnickinnic Rivers, their tributaries, the Estuary, and near shore Lake Michigan.


Why should I adopt a river?

Adopting a section of one of our three rivers ultimately leads to a cleaner, healthier watershed and a cleaner and healthier community! It’s also a great way to:

  • create healthier habitat for wildlife and aquatic animals,
  • build teamwork,
  • give back to your community,
  • fulfill volunteer hours,
  • explore the watershed you live in, and
  • build fieldwork into your educational curriculum.

How far in advance do I need to schedule a cleanup?

Two weeks in advance!

How do I make sure I have enough supplies for my next cleanup?

Send an email to and we will get you set up with supplies (gloves, trash bags, waivers, etc.) for your next cleanup!

Who should I call or email with Adopt-A-River questions?

Call 414-287-0207 or email!

A program of:

Sponsored by: