The City of Madison launched a 5-year green infrastructure (GI) study. This project will take place in a medium-density residential neighborhood located in the Westmorland neighborhood (City of Madison). The study seeks to improve the city’s understanding of how a watershed responds to a collection of GI practices. As defined by the EPA, green infrastructure is, “…the range of measures that use plant or soil systems, permeable pavement or other permeable surfaces or substrates, stormwater harvest and reuse, or landscaping to store, infiltrate, or evapotranspirate stormwater and reduce flows to sewer systems or to surface waters.” In other words, it’s a way of mimicking the natural water cycle by keeping it out of the storm sewer.
About the Green Infrastructure Study Area
Westmorland’s hilly topography means stormwater can rapidly enter the storm sewer. As a result, the stormwater will pick up a variety of pollutants like road salt and phosphorus along the way. Rushing to the storm sewer leaves little time for infiltration to naturally take place. Natural infiltration processes are extremely important since springs account for 35% of Lake Wingra’s water budget. The GI study area includes 595 single-family homes, 60 apartments, 109 condos, and 282 condos.
Friends of Lake Wingra’s Participation in the Green Infrastructure Study Area
Outreach and Education via DNR Grant
In early 2021 Friends of Lake Wingra (FoLW) received a DNR Surface Water Education & Planning grant. This grant allows us to collaborate with the City of Madison to provide additional outreach and education in the area. Moreover, FoLW will identify effective strategies and messaging that empower homeowners to take action for infiltration and phosphorus concerns. Our work will focus on (1) pilot workshops, direct messaging, and educational signage, (2) evaluation of their effectiveness, (3) gauging how participants perceive these opportunities, and (4) identify lingering barriers. In short, we work to have a more effective outreach and education program we can replicate for the coming years.
Rain Barrel Workshop
In September 2020 we held a rain barrel workshop to review how to site and size a rain barrel. We had 10 participants who participated in our first-ever virtual workshop!
Reconstruction Project Terrace Rain Garden Outreach
Some residents in the reconstruction area had the opportunity to upgrade from a rain basin to a terrace rain garden. This upgrade is part of a cost-share program with the City. Furthermore, site attributes like terrace size determine a homeowner’s eligibility. Once some time elapsed after the City provided initial information about the upgrade opportunity, we followed up with a personalized letter in spring 2020. We shared how a terrace rain garden benefits the homeowner and her neighborhood. Additionally, we invited them to reach out to us with further questions. While we cannot directly evaluate what influenced homeowners to upgrade to a terrace rain garden, almost 62% of homeowners who had not upgraded chose to do so after receiving our letter.
If you discovered that you live in Westmorland and do not fall within the green infrastructure study area, we will happily work with you so please still consider signing up below. Just note you would not be eligible for the reimbursement program that is part of the project.