MEREDITH — This summer, the Lakes Region Planning Commission (LRPC) is implementing Soak Up the Rain Waukewan, a new site-level education and planning program to assist selected property owners in the five communities comprising the Lake Waukewan watershed.
The purpose of the program is to work with residents interested in evaluating their property's interaction with the lake and taking steps to maximize the property's ecological performance. Property owners in the Lake Waukewan watershed are eligible to receive free technical assistance that will provide a snap shot of their property's current impact on the lake, a list of low-cost, do-it-yourself improvements, and an action plan for implementation.
Although the program is new, its formation is the result of many years of hard work advanced by local officials, researchers, and volunteers seeking to manage and protect one of the region's key natural resources. Randy Eifert, Chairman of the Waukewan Watershed Advisory Committee recalls the outcomes first envisioned by his Committee when it released its award-winning Waukewan Watershed Management Plan almost a decade ago: "Since 2005, our Committee, comprised of volunteers from the Lake's five communities, has been seeking opportunities to address the top recommendations from our Plan. Stormwater planning is one of our highest concerns and this project will complement our endeavors and assist us tremendously."
While the primary focus of the program is to provide technical assistance, some funding is also available to go a step further with four pilot sites, where recommended best management practices (BMPs) will be installed to emphasize the program's educational component.
According to Kimon Koulet, LRPC's Executive Director, "These installations, funded partially through the program and partially by the property owner, will create functioning, three-dimensional examples of the installations and practices that DES, LRPC and others have been featuring and promoting for effective storm water management. They will serve to educate and familiarize local officials with simple, low-cost stormwater solutions."
Sites selected to receive assistance will exhibit high potential for improved runoff interruption, dissipation, infiltration and/or detention. In particular, the program seeks to facilitate improvements that will alleviate dissolved oxygen impairment in the lake. For example, properties with large areas of bare soil/sand susceptible to erosion, sites with roof/driveway runoff that travels uninterrupted during storms, and sites with lawns extending to the shoreline all represent sites whose ecological function would be enhanced through the program's recommendations and implementation projects.