Madison's stone-walled Memorial Creek is a gem of the city. It enters on the north edge of town, winds through residential areas and parks and flows past churches and commercial property. It eventually pairs up with Silver Creek, which runs through the city from the west, and exits the city limits on its way to Lake Madison.
The creeks serve an important functional purpose: flood control. The municipal storm sewer system collects rainwater and snowmelt and feeds into the creeks, which take the runoff out of town. This important function requires maintenance and repair, and occasional substantial upgrades, to do its job well.
Madison's creeks carry more water than they used to. Each new home, commercial building, street or parking lot that is constructed creates more runoff. Drain tiling in farm fields outside the city add water to the creeks rather than draining through the soil into aquifers.
The City of Madison has upgraded the system, with the assistance of funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) after the creeks overflowed in 1993 and 2019, with larger bridges and other improvements. Annual maintenance is required as well, such as clearing debris and sediment from certain parts of the creeks.
This is the perfect year to get substantial maintenance done. The calendar says it's early June, and a quick observation of the creeks through Madison shows that they are mostly dry. We can now see accumulated litter, soil, stones that have broken away from the walls, and vegetation such as weeds and volunteer trees. In some parts, the creeks are dry enough for equipment such as skid-steers and payloaders to actually drive on the creek beds to do their work.
We recognize the work and expense it takes to maintain the creeks. But it needs to be done, and this is a great year to do it.
-- Jon M. Hunter