Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Professor, student start initiative to encourage rain gardens

James T. Spartz, a graduate student in the life sciences communication department, knows exactly where most of the excess rainwater from Madison’s Arbor Hills neighborhood flows: It ends up in three ponds in the UW–Madison Arboretum, where it deposits harmful amounts of sediment and organic nutrients.

“Stormwater runoff is a perpetual problem for [the Arboretum],” says Spartz. “It poses an ongoing threat to the unique ecology of [the area’s] waterways, and its flora and fauna.”

In an effort to help ameliorate this situation, Spartz and life sciences communication professor Bret Shaw are rolling out a community-based initiative this spring designed to encourage Arbor Hills residents to build rain gardens in their yards. If enough Arbor Hills residents are willing to install these landscape features — which collect and hold rainwater, allowing it to soak into the soil close to where it fell — the neighborhood could significantly reduce the volume of stormwater runoff reaching the Arboretum’s beleaguered ponds. Already, five homeowners have signed on.

To read the entire article, go to UW-Madison News.