Work on Secret Pond reconstrution begins

Eroded channel of Manitou Creek, a bit upstream of Secret Pond. More photos

Update 6/21:  According to Steve Glass, the project has begun with a misstep.  The project's Chapter 30 permit requires that the heavy equipment coming to the project be clean of soil, to avoid introducing invasive species.  The first bulldozer to arrive was dirty.

Below is a letter sent to residents by Gary A. Brown, Director, Campus Planning and Landscape Architecture:

"We are writing to let you know that the long planned Secret Pond rehabilitation project will commence this summer. You may have attended our public meetings on this project during 2008. Since this time we have been working to minimize the effect of the project on the Arboretum by reducing its size, and developing a restoration plan for the failed Secret Pond basin (see attached plan).

Now we are ready to begin construction, and wanted to contact you to let you know to expect a change in the view over the project site. We have already moved valuable viburnum and arborvitae specimens to the north of the new pond (along Nakoma Road). We will also be removing several large cottonwood trees within the construction site, and smaller trees along the downstream ditch. These areas will be restored with native plantings.

Construction is to begin in late June and be completed in September 2011 with site restoration continuing into October 2011.

During the construction, there will be heavy equipment operating within the fenced boundary of the construction site. Truck traffic will be limited to Nakoma Road, with site entry and exit at the foot of Huron Hill where there is presently an opening in the stone wall.

We apologize in advance for any inconvenience or disruption that this project may cause you. We hope that you will share with us the expectation that this project will result in an improvement to the landscape and to water quality in the marsh and Lake Wingra. If you have any questions about the project, please contact: Gary Brown via e-mail gbrown@fpm.wisc.edu."

More details

"There will be regular bi-weekly progress meetings in addition to the day to day inspections."

The detailed plans and bid specifications are on the internet, but you will need to get a login from Div. of State Facilities (DSF).

To avoid having the pond overflow from a storm during construction, "runoff will be diverted around the project during construction. The pond will not be filled until it is completed and the drainage channel is stabilized."

Are there plans to prevent spreading the Japanese knotweed infestation which occurs near the pond?  "That area will be stripped and graded, and the subsequent restoration has a three year warranty for the removal of invasive species."  The answers in quotes, thanks to UW engineer David Liebl.

Project cost

The cost was one of the controversial aspects.  The low bidder was Veit Company, Milwaukee, WI. The bid was for $1,019, 414. This was over $600,000 lower than the next lowest bid.

That's a lot of dollars which could have been spent on other watershed improvements, or on a more biological approach to stormwater control.  The cost is high, in part because (under the current plan) huge volumes of soil will have to be removed from the Arboretum and trucked away.

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Details of this controversial project, from UW's point of view.
Details from the Arboretum's point of view.
Link showing how construction of stormwater basins can cause erosion and sediment problems, which must be charged against their sediment control benefits.
Link to DOA portal to documents on the project.
Link to DOA portal for all projects.  Scroll down 1/3 of way to see Secret Pond details.  Project manager is: Jim McMillan, DSF, 101 E Wilson St - 7th Fl (53703), PO Box 7866 , Madison, WI 53707-786.
Office Phone: (608) 266-3855
Fax Number: (608) 267-2710
Email Address: jim.mcmillan@wisconsin.gov

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