Solving a Hidden Problem: Rainwater Catchment to Offset Groundwater Depletion

EPA Grant Number: SU833939
Title: Solving a Hidden Problem: Rainwater Catchment to Offset Groundwater Depletion
Investigators: Bianco, Stephanie , Bradford, Anna , Kenney, John , Utschig-Samuels, Stephen , Zeise, Lea
Current Investigators: Bank, Larry , Potter, Kenneth W.
Institution: University of Wisconsin - Madison
EPA Project Officer: Nolt-Helms, Cynthia
Phase: I
Project Period: April 21, 2009 through April 21, 2011
Project Amount: $10,000
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet (2008) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: P3 Challenge Area - Water , Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , P3 Awards , Sustainability


The University of Wisconsin-Madison is developing a rain water catchment system for the newest wing of the UW-Hospital, the IRC. The UW-Hospital currently imports its irrigation water, at a great cost to the hospital and, more severely, Madison’s water table. The city of Madison currently uses 1.19 million gallons of water per day for irrigation purposes, with the University being the largest contributor. This issue is just an addition to the already pressing problem of Madison depleting it’s aquifer at twice the rate it is being replenished. These pressing crises are in need of action, which is why the implementation of rainwater catchment systems must be employed to combat the exhaustion of Madison’s water supply.


The objective of this design is to use collected rainwater for irrigation while simultaneously working to recharge Madison’s aquifer by lessening the need to extract irrigation water from it.


The UW-Madison team uses an integrated design technique in conjunction with public and private institutions. The rain water catchment system will be incorporated into existing structures and construction plans. Sustainable construction concepts will be implemented, all of which focus on the redirection and reuse of rainwater for irrigation as well as the reduction of storm water runoff into the nearby Lake Mendota.

Expected Results:

The predicted result is a measurable decrease in the amount of irrigation water used by the UW-Hospital and the city of Madison. Data collection systems will measure direct results of the catchment system and computer simulations will be used to predict figures required to expand the project to a much larger, more sustainable scale as well as the economic benefits for the surrounding area.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 4 publications for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

water table, depletion, water collection, rainwater runoff, sustainable, catchment, aquifer, replenish,

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2009
  • Final Report