Type -  conceptual

Status - complete

Location - Milwaukee, WI

Team -  Ten x Ten


Of the many shifts that are happening in America today the greatest modification taking place is in the submarine environment of the Great Lakes.  Zebra Mussels have irreversibly transformed the ecology of the lakes. Their ability to clean water and dwell in submarine pipes has caused power outages, sewage treatment backup, commercial fishing loss, bloody feet and huge maintenance regimes.  These alterations require new models for incorporating the mussels into the shifting Great Lakes ecology. 

The project looks broadly at the Great Lakes system to understand the relationship of the three forces across the region then focuses in on the coast of Milwaukee as a case study to determine how the infrastructure might be deployed.  The outcome is the installation of Mussel Beach modules in strategic locations based on the three site forces.


Milwaukee’s Menomonee Valley provides the proper resources and infrastructure for the construction and deployment of the modules.  Previously harvested mussels will be used in the mix as both fine aggregate and the valley has vast resources for precast concrete manufacturing and local sources of materials. The project will be installed by the many outfits of shoreline construction crews also in the valley area.

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Mussel Beach defines a new typology of beachscape infrastructure to be deployed across the Great Lakes.  The projects goal is to amplify the codependence and coexistence of zebra mussels, combined sewer overflows and surfers.


The placement of a new infrastructure of zebra mussel collection stations(modules) will allow for;  the amplification of surf beaches(wind waves) and the increase of active recreation, the cleaning of small and large CSO overflow events and the development of a management strategy for the zebra mussels.

Once installed the modules will be managed by the Mussel Harvesters of the Great Lakes, a mix of recreational and professional divers in the area.  Periodic harvests will go to the lab for testing water quality as mussels are excellent bio indicators and will determine what the harvests can be used for.

The long term implications of the infrastructure have positive impacts on the community and economy.  Not only will there be an increased number of surf days, fewer cut feet and cleaner water, the harvesting of mussels will help to create new material flows and economies around compost for residential and commercial gardens, fine aggregates and calcium carbonate for concrete mixes and aggregates for paving.

Project partners include Milwaukee Municipal Sewage District, Great Lake Surfing Coalition, Environmental Protection Agency, City of Milwaukee and the Mussel Harvesters of the Great lakes.