Campus Stormwater Discharge Reduced Due to Green Landscaping
|Project Summary: The University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee has installed green rooftops, bioswales, and other natural landscaping projects that have lead to a dramatic decrease in the water the campus discharges into the Milwaukee sewer system.|
Project Name: University Decreases Runoff
Location: Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Description: The University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee has been reworking their campus to reduce stormwater discharge. Seven
buildings on campus have green roofs incorporated into their design, including a Wisconsin native dry-prairie, one with solar panels in the landscape, and a vegetable garden used by a campus café. These green roofs will absorb water and heat more effectively than traditional roofs ever could, while benefitting wildlife by providing habitat. A 5,000 square foot spiral garden on campus catches rainwater drainage from some of the green roofs and other traditional rooftops to decrease runoff into Lake Michigan. The garden and two cisterns that double as fountains at the end of it slow the flow of water, allowing it more time to seep into the ground. The presence of native plants also slows the progress of the water, increases absorption in the landscape, and filters nonpoint source pollution that collects on the rooftops and in the nearby parking lot.
Approximate Cost of the Project: Between $2,000,000 and $2,500,000, with some funding from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative
Resource Challenges Addressed: Excess runoff and erosion, nonpoint source pollution, energy use and maintenance costs, lack of wildlife habitat in urban spaces
Key Partners (Public and Private): Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District, University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee, and WE Energies
Types of Jobs Created: Landscape designers, biologists, university research assistants, construction workers, truck drivers, and general laborers
Results and Accomplishments: The spiral rain garden in combination with the green rooftops are estimated to reduce average stormwater runoff into the city’s sewerage system by 97 percent. This impact is in part due to a large area of impervious surface whose runoff was diverted into the spiral rain garden, providing the space and time for water to absorb into the landscape instead of running off into Lake Michigan.
Originally Published: August 30, 2013