The public is invited to see the Wingra School’s brand new rain gardens, learn about community/government collaboration and take a tour, 2 p.m., June 25, 2022, at the top of the hill at 3200 Monroe Street.
During Saturday’s event, City staff will host a tour and explain how community involvement made the rain gardens possible and the extensive construction process, from digging to planting.
A rain garden is a grouping of native plants in a shallow depression with the purpose of absorbing rainwater to mitigate the amount of stormwater runoff. Listen to the Wingra School rain gardens episode of City Engineering’s podcast for more background information.
Community meets local government collaboration
City Engineering proudly promotes rain gardens as a way to combat excessive stormwater runoff. Collaboration with a private school was made possible because the rain gardens were constructed on Dudgeon School Park, a City-owned property. Wingra School, Jacob Blasczyk, the co-chair of the WATER sub-grant team and Sandy Stark, a member of Dudgeon-Monroe Neighborhood Association, reached out to City of Madison Engineering Division Stormwater Engineer Phil Gaebler to help plan and construct the rain gardens. Wingra School needed a solution to take on long-standing run off issues, so Blasczyk and Stark reached out to the City of Madison Engineering Division to find a solution in the summer of 2021. Wingra School’s hilly location made it prone to floods. Heavy rain caused stormwater to run down the hill, which caused safety concerns and new plantings to be ruined. The rain gardens were not necessary, but addressed the flooding concerns while providing a natural habitat.
Gaebler has been the City’s contact with the Dudgeon Monroe Neighborhood Association, and this project has had a number of hurdles to overcome to make the rain gardens a reality. Challenges includes funding coordination, contractor availability, and schedule coordination, but all parties were committed to making this happen and found a way to get this done.
The following funding sources contributed to this rain garden project: UW Arboretum $5,000 WATER grant and $10,000 in Engineering Division water quality grants.
“The Friends of Lake Wingra and the Dudgeon Monroe Neighborhood Association each applied for a $5,000 grant from the Engineering Division for water quality work. So they got $10,000 guaranteed in extra money,” Gaebler said. “We also applied for a Dane County water quality grant for the water quality benefits of this project and are hopeful we will receive it soon.”
What to expect
The rain gardens are located at the west and east end of Wingra School’s playground and are connected by a swale and underground tubing. Both gardens were constructed with particular drains and soil to absorb rainwater, reducing the risk of stormwater overflow. Twenty-seven volunteers worked to finish planting the gardens by late September.