As Madison students braved the thunderstorms walking to class Tuesday, Dane County Executive Joe Parisi released his $653.7 million budget plan for 2020 stressing flood mitigation efforts, following a deluge of rainfall this past year.
Parisi believes Dane County must find a proactive way to adapt to problems associated with climate change-induced flooding in Madison. In 2018, August floods caused over $39 million dollars in public infrastructure damage. The County Executive announced a series of projects planning for Madison’s viability in the coming years.
“We also work to advance our leadership in protecting the place we call home — the lands and waters that mark the uniqueness of being both the fastest growing county in Wisconsin while maintaining an unrivaled focus on conservation and water quality,” Parisi said.
Among Parisi’s proposals to protect Madison’s future includes a new $3 million Flood Risk Reduction Fund. The fund’s goal is to reduce runoff by preserving wetlands and prairies.
Additionally, $5 million county dollars will be dedicated to purchasing dredging equipment for sediment removal. At least four new staff members will join the removal team to help solve Madison’s flooding complications.
This year, Madison experienced its 8th wettest September on record after receiving over six inches of rain in the first 29 days of the month, according to the Wisconsin State Journal.
In Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway’s 2020 Executive Operating Budget statement, she emphasized her drive to pursue bold solutions by taking action to invest in climate resiliency.
“One thing is certain: we must continue to focus on reducing the city’s carbon footprint while continuing to be a steward of the city’s natural environment,” Rhodes-Conway said.
City engineers are working to find ways to offset the effects of the climate crisis, as several buildings in Madison and other cities in Dane County face potential flooding.
Like Parisi, the Madison City Council Sustainability Committee expressed their motivation to work with local partners to combat climate change. The committee voted last Wednesday to partner with Madison Gas & Electric to invest in renewable solar energy for local businesses and homeowners, which is expected to cover 19% of the city’s current electricity.
Parisi’s plan includes $400,000 to help repair the Pheasant Branch Conservancy, which was damaged in the 2018 floods. Over $700,000 will be allocated toward sustainable agriculture.