Experimental rain garden proposed for Hamilton School

There's growing recognition that the best way to cleaner lakes is to improve the watershed around them--including more infiltration of rainwater, less erosion, and more biodiversity.

The Friends of Lake Wingra undertook a survey of the watershed.   One finding was that swales--shallow grassy depressions used to manage stormwater--were present everywhere and could be modified to improve infiltration.  Every school we surveyed had swales, often in areas that have no other use.

Swale at Midvale School during a severe storm.

At some schools such as Lincoln, Midvale, Hamilton, and Toki, over time the swales have changed* so they no longer perform their function of carrying away stormwater.  The result--large puddles that turn to mud or slick ice, creating a nuisance.

Swales are linear depressions in turf, usually in sunny locations.  With little effort, they can be turned into rain gardens by the creation of shallow dams, then planted with native prairie species.

What's needed is a test of this concept, to see if we can find a method that requires minimal labor and expense.  We hope to demonstrate that benefits will outweigh any increased maintenance or loss of open lawn.


Meeting on proposed new building on Monroe St.

Meeting Monday, May 5th, 6:30pm
Wingra School Library

Updated 5/3/14

Neighbors are invited to attend and participate in a discussion on a proposed development at 3414 Monroe Street by developer, Patrick Corcoran.

This site is at the corner of Monroe and Glenway, across Glenway from Parman's Place.

The proposal involves demolishing the current building and constructing a new mixed-use (commercial/residential) building.

The "Save our Lakes" breakfast

On April 25, the Clean Lakes Alliance held its annual fundraiser breakfast at Monona Terrace.  There were at least 5 speakers, including Mayor Paul Soglin and County Executive Joe Parisi.

Steven Carpenter, from the UW's Laboratory of Limnology, spoke briefly about "the state of our lakes."  Basically, our lakes are holding their own--neither improving nor declining--despite all the efforts at correcting their problems.

The ups and downs we have recently seen in lake clarity are simply due to whether it has been a year with lots of runoff, versus a year of drought.

The decorations were stunning, including hanging mobiles depicting the many species of fish in our lakes, made by school children just for this event. Behind luminous blue curtains, videos of waves and bubbles reproduced an underwater environment (someplace much cleaner than our lakes).  It felt like we were dining like mermaids, beneath the waves.

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A community celebration for building a rain garden

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