Mar 04, 2020

UW Arboretum Begins Final Storm Water Upgrades

The University of Wisconsin-Madison Arboretum is completing its final storm water upgrades in the spring

storm water

The University of Wisconsin–Madison Arboretum and local municipalities will complete the final phase of improvements to storm water management infrastructure in the spring.

This infrastructure protects the Arboretum’s restored ecosystems and Lake Wingra from urban runoff, according to the university

The final and most visible project will begin in early March at the edge of the Curtis Prairie, which is the oldest restored prairie in the world. A storm water retention pond will be rehabilitated, a broken flume will be rebuilt, and invasive species will be removed and replaced with native plants.

The project requires removing select pine and other trees adjacent to the prairie to create a service lane for machinery, reported the university. Arboretum staff have also erected barriers to protect the Curtis Prairie from damage during construction.

During construction, a patch of invasive reed canary grass will be mechanically removed from Curtis Prairie.  

Completion is slated for May and Arboretum staff will then restore the affected areas with native plants. The costs are shared between UW–Madison and the City and Town of Madison.

“Without a pond we would have storm water racing into the prairie with a high sediment load,” said Arboretum ecologist Brad Herrick. “All those things are a recipe for invasive species getting established, reduction of native species, and erosion.”

The Arboretum helps manage and filter half a billion gallons of water from nearby communities each year, according to the university. The Arboretum will continue to manage large volumes of storm water since it lies at the bottom of the Lake Wingra watershed.

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