Root-Pike Win and UW-Parkside Receive Fund for Lake Michigan Grant for Campus Stormwater Innovation

Published: November 4, 2022

RPWSomers, Wis. – Root-Pike Watershed Initiative Network (WIN) is partnering with the University of Wisconsin Parkside and the Fund for Lake Michigan to reduce the stormwater runoff to the Pike River with a regenerative stormwater conveyance (RSC) system. This month, the Fund for Lake Michigan awarded Root-Pike WIN a $70,000 grant to help build an RSC along University Drive on the UW-Parkside campus. The University is contributing to the project as well by selling energy back to the grid via their campus solar panel farm. 

RSC systems are a series of planted infiltration pools overlying a sand and woodchip bed. The design allows for flexibility in pool size, elevation, and location such that the entire RSC can be sculpted into the existing landscape, ultimately minimizing disturbances and associated costs due to excavation. Since the RSC is a sand/woodchip-based system, stormwater pollutants will be filtered from runoff, resulting in improved water quality and ecological benefits for the downstream Pike River. Even with the added benefits, project costs associated with the RSC are similar to those using the standard pond design. 

Dr. Deborah Ford, UW-Parkside Chancellor, commented, “We appreciate the partnerships we have developed with Root Pike WIN and the Fund for Lake Michigan to move environmental innovations like the RSC forward. With the proceeds from our solar field, we are using the sun to “power” stormwater innovation on campus. The solar buy-back funding mechanism and the matching funds it creates being used for projects like the RSC is pretty cool.” 

RSCs reduce suspended solids, nitrogen, and phosphorus by 50% more than a standard stormwater pond at a similar cost. The RSC also meets or exceeds the volume and velocity requirements for stormwater conveyance. Road salt, another major impairment to our lakes and rivers, is also reduced by the RSC through infiltration. The RSC needs minimal maintenance compared to traditional stormwater ponds – very little mowing, no dredging, and no geese. 

“UW-Parkside is becoming a leader in sustainable practices for large campuses, and the RSC is one of many to follow,” said Dave Giordano, Executive Director at Root-Pike WIN. “Reducing costs while improving environmental conditions is how Root-Pike WIN defines ‘sustainability’ and the UW-Parkside is setting the example for others to follow with the RSC,” Giordano added. 

“The RSC is becoming a great tool to improve water quality and reduce flooding within Lake Michigan’s most impaired tributaries. It is great to see UW-Parkside using this innovation and inspiring others to do the same,” said Vicki Elkin, Executive Director of the Fund for Lake Michigan. 

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