Friends of Lake Wingra WATER Grant

Busy at work building a rain garden in the Lake Wingra watershed

We are thrilled to have completed our one-year UW-Madison Arboretum WATER grant project this summer! In the WATER (Water Action to Encourage Responsibility) project, the UW-Madison Arboretum along with neighborhood, city, and county partners in the Lake Wingra watershed worked together to pilot programs and neighborhood-focused actions that minimize the harmful effects of stormwater that flows from our urban watershed into our lake system.

Friends of Lake Wingra was one of five local organizations awarded a small WATER grant as part of this effort. With these funds, we hired Sue Hessel, a rain garden consultant, to provide expertise and guidance to homeowners in the Westmorland neighborhood who expressed interest in installing a rain garden on their property. A 2021 survey of homeowners in the Westmorland neighborhood indicated that having someone who could provide on-the-ground expertise was the largest barrier for people interested in installing and maintaining an effective rain garden.

With Sue’s guidance and the support of local volunteers to help with the digs, four homeowners in the Westmorland neighborhood installed a rain garden and one homeowner installed an anchored swale to prevent soil erosion on a steep slope on their property. These stormwater features cover over 300 square feet of land that was once covered by grass. Thank you to the volunteers who helped with the installs – we know it’s tough work moving all that earth! Now we just have to wait patiently for the plants to grow and spread their roots deep into the soil.

Due to the popularity of this pilot program, FoLW is hoping to work with our local partners to continue this work supporting community and private landowner efforts in other neighborhoods across the watershed to soak up stormwater and clean up the water entering our beautiful lake.

Stay tuned for a tour of all WATER grant projects this Fall!