Join Engineers Without Borders to design Lake Wingra biofiltration garden

Share this story:

Students from the University of Wisconsin-Madison chapter of Engineers Without Borders (EWB) invite Madison community members to join them the morning of Saturday, August 21, 2010 to help design a biofiltration garden that will clean the Vilas Beach area of Lake Wingra.

EWB was approached by members of the Friends of Lake Wingra to develop innovative ways to improve the beach. The students plan to construct a biofiltration garden on the western edge of the beach, which is significantly eroded. They propose to install a solar pump to funnel water from the lake into a series of pools and terraces filled with mushrooms and wetland plants that will filter the water before it is released back into the swimming area.

“Our goal is that this water-filtering garden-sculpture be educational and demonstrate how mushrooms and other plants can help improve our urban waters; usable for people to enjoy, play and walk over; and aesthetically pleasing,” says anthropology graduate student Christina Cappy, one of the project managers.

EWB is a nonprofit organization dedicated to serving underdeveloped countries and communities around the world. The active UW-Madison chapter has projects in El Salvador, Haiti, Kenya, Rwanda and Red Cliff, Wisconsin.

“The Lake Wingra project really shows that we don’t just work internationally–we work right here too, because making our personal community a better place is just as important,” says materials science and engineering student Emily Burris, who is the UW-Madison EWB chapter president.

Students and community members will meet at Vilas Beach from 9:00-11:00 a.m. on Saturday. For more information, E-mail

Sandra Knisely