Using SeeClickFix to solve storm water problems | Guest Post by David Thompson

In Madison, WI, we have small streams and ravines serving as channels for stormwater. Over the years, more pavement led to more runoff, creating problems with flooding and erosion. In one ravine, growing erosion was ignored by officials and neighbors until it threatened a sewage line. The city proposed to solve the erosion by burying the stream in a big pipe. But neighbors revolted, demanding a better plan--one that wouldn't destroy the natural beauty of the little stream.
Neighbors wanted to preserve the beauty of this little stream.

I became involved because a year ago, the city had buried a similar stream in my neighborhood. I had ignored discussions before the plan was set, but now I was horrified by the result. I realized there was still time to make amends by working to save the new stream. Citizens have to take more interest and responsibility for the waterways in their back yards.
Burial of a stream--overkill for minor problems
When I heard about SeeClickFix, I realized this was the perfect tool for correcting stormwater problems before they get out of hand. Because when storm water has its way, engineers want to step in with the "final solution." Goodbye stream.

First of all, backyard streams need to be cleaned up. They can't be a place for throwing trash or yard waste. Once neighbors clean up, then do some bank repair and plantings, little streams become something worth saving.
Streams are just like city streets. If you patch erosion along their banks early, it's easy to fix. If you let the problem go--it gets expensive. Problems in ravines are easy to ignore--out of sight, and out of mind. But it's fun to explore these little streams, and document problems you see with a camera. SeeClickFix can blow the whistle.

Below, I'll list some of the problems you can report with SeeClickFix.
Just like city streets, bank erosion has to be patched before it gets out of hand.
Yard waste and downed trees need to be cleaned up. But some dead trees and brush should be kept for wildlife.
Tim Kessenich shows how he's reinforced a stream that runs through his yard. It takes minor but regular maintenance.
Stagnant pools can lead to mosquitoes, if they remain for weeks. Here's what you can do.
Rain gardens keep streams healthy
Rain gardens help by taking care of rain where it falls. By allowing rain to sink into the soil, there will be less runoff--with less damage to stream banks, and more groundwater to maintain flow during dry spells. Rain gardens are needed not only for your downspout, but also for runoff from large parking lots and for streets.
Citizens can use SeeClickFix to identify good spots for larger rain gardens. Neighbors need to step forward to help maintain these gardens--and SeeClickFix can help recruit and organize volunteers. Rain gardens save tax dollars--they also beautify neighborhoods and increase property values.
This rain garden handles runoff from a parking lot in Madison, WI.

Find out here about rain gardens.

A rain garden for your school.

Philadelphia plans to become a green city.

Find out here about the battle to save a stream in Madison, WI.