Boerner Botanical Gardens
When it’s 103 degrees F in the shade, water in the landscape looks mighty inviting! That’s the situation I found myself in last week in Milwaukee while visiting the Boerner (pronounced BURN-er) Botanical Gardens. Lucky for me, the garden has a state-of-the-art rainwater harvesting and recycling system that doubles as a beautiful landscape water feature and serves as a cooling respite on a hot summer day. The system harvests rain from the parking lot and the roof of the visitor center, diverting it to the stream you see above. The water flows into a reservoir with two submersible pumps. One recirculates the water through a sediment trap; the other through the riparian wetland. The plants in the stream help filter the water, gulping extra minerals, reducing the iron content of the water enough to prevent staining of limestone sculptures in the garden. The system can capture 35,000 gallons of water at a time, saving up to 2.5 million gallons of irrigation water per year.