Lower Badger Mill Creek Watershed Study
The project is complete.
View the Lower Badger Mill Creek Watershed Study Final Report.
The City of Madison has completed a watershed study for the Lower Badger Mill Creek watershed (as shown below). This watershed is a rapidly developing watershed on the west side of the City.
The City of Madison had assistance from a Consultant for the effort. The watershed study quantified existing flooding in the watershed. The study used computer models to assist with the evaluations. Proposed mitigation measures are not being developed for this watershed.
Note: this watershed study is different than many of the other watershed studies in the City of Madison. One of the main purposes of the watershed studies is to craft flood mitigation solutions in existing developed areas of the City. Because this is a developing watershed, and not fully-developed, only the existing system is being evaluated. This results of this study will help inform stormwater requirements for the developing areas.
For more information on urban flooding, please see the Flash Flooding Story Map . *Note: Please view the story map using Firefox or Google Chrome browsers. Story maps are not viewable with Internet Explorer.
The Upper Badger Mill Creek Watershed drains south to Badger Mill Creek near Verona and then to the Sugar River.
The project took approximately twelve months to complete.
This watershed study will not include significant public involvement as it is only for the construction of computer models. Questions and comments can be emailed to the Project Contact at anytime.
A report was drafted to document the methodology and results:
Lower Badger Mill Creek Watershed Study Final Report
The City of Madison has 22 watersheds. Watersheds are an area of land that drain to the same location (the outlet).
There is a stormwater drainage system in all watersheds. This system is what conveys the stormwater to the outlet of the watershed. The City of Madison's stormwater drainage system includes approximately:
- 570 linear miles of stormwater pipes
- 42,800 stormwater inlets and access structures
- 250 stormwater ponds
- many miles of open greenways, channels and ditches
- many stormwater infiltration areas.
The City's system dates back to the 1880s. Very few, if any, standards were available in the 1880s. As the City developed, so did the guidance for design and construction. Today, we have comprehensive City, State, and Federal regulations to guide design and construction. The area of the City you live in used the regulations in place at the time it was developed. You can view the StoryMap to see what the regulations were for your neighborhood.
The extreme storm events in 2018 shed light on the deficiencies of the City’s stormwater drainage system. Many areas of the City experienced devastating flooding. This prompted the City to begin a comprehensive watershed study program in 2019. The intent of the program is to study each of the City’s watersheds one-by-one. The studies will help us to understand the causes of flooding. The studies will also provide recommended solutions to reduce the risk of flooding.
The watershed studies result in a list of proposed mitigation measures. Once constructed, the measures will reduce the risk of flooding to specific areas of the City. These mitigation measures are generally very costly. Due to limited stormwater management funding, all the mitigation measures cannot be implemented at one time.
The average Stormwater Utility Capital Budget each year is approximately $12 million. Within that, an average of about $2.4 million is used for flood mitigation. As of late 2021, recommended flood mitigation measures for the first five watershed studies were identified. The total cost from the first five studies is approximately $125 million. We expect the remaining 17 watershed studies will have similar flood mitigation project needs. Implementation of these flood mitigation measures will take many decades.
The Stormwater Utility funds the stormwater management for the City. This includes the construction, operation, and maintenance of the entire stormwater drainage system. The Stormwater Utility rates are set each year consistent with Wisconsin Statute. § 66.0821(4) and as described in Madison General Ordinance section 37.05 . These rates are under the purview of the public service commission. The rates are required to be deemed “reasonable” to comply with state statute. During the annual budgeting process, the City tries to balance the stormwater needs with the stormwater rate charged to its customers. These needs include:
- Implementation of flood mitigation measures
- Replacement, extension, and upgrades of existing the existing stormwater system
- Mandated water quality needs and requirements
When possible, the City attempts to get grant funding to partially fund the flood mitigation measures. Grant funding makes up a small part of the funding needed for stormwater management.
The City has created a draft prioritization process. This process creates a proposed order to construct the flood mitigation measures. This process accounts for many factors including:
- Impact on emergency services,
- Location of vulnerable populations,
- If the project also improves stormwater quality,
- Whether other projects are occurring nearby, and
- If outside funding is available.
- City of Madison Flood Website
- Flash Flooding Resilience Story Map
*Note: Please view the story map using Firefox or Google Chrome browsers. Story maps are not viewable with Internet Explorer.
- Watershed Study Learning Hub
- View the City's Annual Stormwater Newsletter: Waterways
- Watershed Studies 2019 Audio Presentation
- Flood Prevention Flyer and website
- Everyday Engineering Podcast Episode: Basement Drainage
- Everyday Engineering Podcast Episode: Historic Flooding
- Everyday Engineering Podcast Episode: What's going on with the Watershed?
If anyone has experienced flooding, and is willing to share with the City, please report it on the City's website. Even if a homeowner reported flooding to 2-1-1, FEMA, or a City official, the City needs standardized information to create stormwater models that show existing flooding conditions. The flood data helps the City prioritize different flood projects and future watershed studies.