Kick the salt habit--for the sake of our lakes

by Jim Baumann and David Thompson

Madison’s waterways are clearly impacted by winter salt use. Steadily increasing levels of chlorides from deicers have been found in all of Madison's Lakes, and in our wells.

Odana Pond, at the western end of the Lake Wingra watershed, is listed as an impaired water due to very high chloride levels.  Most of the salt is from highways, streets and parking lots, but home use also contributes.

Vultures feast on carp at Odana Pond-->


Adopt-a-Spot: A system for rain garden maintenance

Maintenance of rain gardens is vital.  If they aren't maintained and attractive, there will become eyesores, discouraging future garden construction.

Some rain gardens will cease to function if they become damaged or clogged with debris.  City-built gardens on Keyes St. usually have clogged inlets.  A large rain garden on the Edgewood College campus has an eroded berm, reducing its capacity by half (right).

Orange Schroeder has a City-built rain garden on the terrace in front of her house.  About two years ago in June, she asked me to help her identify which plants in the garden were weeds.  There were several look-alike species I couldn't identify.  I took samples to a botanist Ph.D., but he couldn't identify them without flowers.  Since we didn't know what species were planted, I was stumped.  To pull or not to pull....

A record of what had been planted, and where, would have helped.  What's needed is a database on all rain gardens in Madison with these basic facts recorded, plus who is responsible for maintenance.

Adopt-a-spot in Lansing, MI

When it comes to rain gardens downtown, the capital of Michigan is far ahead of Madison.  Lansing has 55 large rain gardens not far from the capitol building, plus 170 flower gardens.  The rain gardens are large and well-engineered--with an attractive iron fence.