Lake Wingra Storm Drain Mural at Vilas Park

October, 2021

Have you seen the new turtle mural above the storm drain at Vilas Park? It features two of Lake Wingra’s favorite creatures to spot: the snapping and painted turtle. The new turtle mural, located across from the tennis court parking lot near Lake Wingra in Vilas Park, was made possible by Dane County’s Storm Drain Mural Program. This program uses storm drains as a canvas to educate residents about stormwater pollution through art.

The goals of this colorful turtle mural are to 1) capture the attention of those who pass by, 2) help them understand that stormwater that enters this storm drain flows directly into Lake Wingra, and 3) get them thinking about what they can do to “Keep It Clean”, such as keeping leaves out of the street and limiting, or better yet–stopping the use of salt on sidewalks.

The Vilas Neighborhood Association coordinated the mural painting event along the shore of Lake Wingra at the end of August to raise awareness of Lake Wingra’s Watershed. Residents were invited to come learn how their actions directly impact the water quality of Lake Wingra and help paint the mural.

Christal Campbell, Ripple Effects Stormwater Education Coordinator, lead a captivating and kid-friendly presentation about stormwater runoff. Using her watershed model, she showed how our actions have ripple effects and the importance of keeping things like leaves and salt out of the storm drains.

The kids took a turn at creating rain in the watershed and seeing how easy it is for phosphorus rich “leaf tea” and salt from our sidewalks and streets to travel through storm drains to Lake Wingra’s precious ecosystem. Can you spot the awesome Friends of Lake Wingra stickers and poster too?
After the storm, the watershed model was quite a mess–lots of impervious surfaces!!

In the Wingra Watershed, about half of the land use is residential neighborhoods and about 15% is commercial uses. Instead of native prairie, forest and wetland vegetation, most of the watershed is covered by elements of a “built environment”: roads, parking lots, buildings, and lawns. Many of these surfaces are impervious, meaning they do not allow rain water to infiltrate into the ground.

Impervious surfaces alter how water flows through a watershed and affect both water quantity and quality. When it rains on streets, parking lots, and lawns, runoff from these surfaces carries pollutants including dirt, oil, road salt, pesticides, fertilizers, and trash. Runoff becomes stormwater as it flows into gutters and storm sewers and eventually into Lake Wingra.

A useful way to help out at this time of year is to sign up for leaf-free streets rain alerts so you’re reminded when rain is on the way, it’s time to take action.
After the watershed presentation, everyone had a chance to paint the turtle mural, with the help of Gabrielle Javier-Cerulli and Alicia Rheal, Dane Arts Mural Arts (DAMA) Artists.
The stunning result!!:)