Milwaukee entrepreneur develops unique idea for stormwater runoff

By: Meghan Jensen, VP Marketing & Communications for The Water Council





Earlier this year we selected two winners for the 2017 Pilot Program supported by Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District, Fund for Lake Michigan and Wells Fargo. The program, now in its third year, supports water businesses of all sizes who need assistance taking a prototype to pilot and production. Past innovations that have advanced to participate in the program include a mini water treatment system for underserved communities, a solar powered stormwater disinfection system and a web dashboard that actively controls and monitors stormwater discharge. This year we’re pleased to welcome two small businesses to the challenge, Stormwater Solutions Engineering which you’ll hear more about below, and PaveDrain who’s developing a cement paver for municipalities and landowners to handle massive amounts of stormwater while cleaning it.

I spent some time with Carrie Bristoll-Groll, owner of Stormwater Solutions Engineering LLC, a 15-year old civil engineering firm headquartered in Milwaukee, Wisconsin to explore her new product and learn how her team is managing water where it falls.


Stormwater Solutions Engineering’s mission is to provide stewardship of lakes and streams through quality engineering and environmentally sound design. Projects range from flood control ponds to re-routing streams for residential neighborhoods to mass transportation areas. Carrie and her team were recently announced as winners of the BizTimes I.Q. Award which “recognizes southeastern Wisconsin companies that have developed innovative products, services or processes.”

MJ – Congratulations on both your BizTimes Award and acceptance into the Pilot Program, a lot is brewing for you this year so tell us about the new stormwater product you’ll be piloting? 

Carrie – We are the second oldest tenant in the Global Water Center, so we stay in touch with The Water Council and other tenants. We heard about the Pilot Program through The Water Council’s newsletter and thought it was great timing for bringing this device through monitoring and testing to market.

StormGUARDen(TM) (pictured above) is a modular planter-style stormwater system for small sites, collecting 3″ (about 7.5 cm) of rainfall from a roof up to 850 sq ft (79 sq m). For comparison, most green infrastructure is sized for 1/2″-1″ (1.3 cm – 2.5 cm) of rainfall depth. Your downspout is directed into the StormGUARDen trough, overflowing into planted containers. Each container holds engineered soil media which allows for high flow through, yet supports plant life. Each container then drains into the bottom of the StormGUARDen which has the capacity of 6.5 rain barrels, and then slowly drains through outlets to the surrounding grade. This is very useful for homes that are being required to disconnect downspouts from the sewer, or areas where there is a lot more roof than green space.

MJ – We want to hear about your “ah-ha” moment for the StormGUARDen.

Carrie – I have been thinking about this design for a long time. With the aid of my son and husband, I started building the first prototype about a year ago. Drawings had been drafted and scaled, and flows had been calculated as we do with all engineered stormwater devices, but when the first rainfall responded in the StormGUARDen as calculated and predicted, I knew we had something useful!

MJ – What are you most looking forward to throughout the Pilot Program?

Carrie – We have built and installed a number of them as the design has improved and modified.  I’m most looking forward to the 10 units we will be installing as part of the Pilot Program, to get feedback from the recipients and monitoring the flows and water quality.


“We want to GUARD our neighborhoods from flooding and GUARD our streams from stormwater runoff pollution.”


MJ – What do you hope to achieve once you’ve completed the Pilot Program?  

Carrie – Certainly the goal is developing the product to production and installation, providing more control to localized flooding (stormwater ponding) and improved stream quality. Things are moving much more quickly through the evaluation and monitoring stages of the pilot than we predicted, which is good because we are already working at the planning level for a few local projects. We are hopeful that StormGUARDen becomes a household term in areas where flooding and stream quality are a concern. We want to GUARD our neighborhoods from flooding and GUARD our streams from stormwater runoff pollution.


One of our priorities is to provide water innovation advancements to our members in a timely and efficient way, while protecting the intellectual property of the innovators. Our newsletter and blog serve as introduction points and ways of sharing a handful of innovations occurring in our network. If you’re seeking further information, please contact our Business Development team.

An opportunity to connect with Stormwater Solutions Engineering and other water-centric organizations is at our upcoming Water Leaders Summit 2017 May 23-24 in Milwaukee, where we’ll be hosting big-picture conversations surrounding the theme “A Secure Future Needs Water.”


This post was tagged under: Fund for Lake Michigan, Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District, Pilot Program, Stormwater Solutions Engineering, Wells Fargo