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Clearest water in years shown in State of the Lakes Annual Report

Luck from “Mother Nature” helped fuel a clear 2016

MADISON, Wis. — Today at its sixth annual Save Our Lakes community breakfast, Clean Lakes Alliance released the 2016 State of the Lakes Annual Report. The report, which looks at phosphorus reduction efforts through the 2016 calendar year, shows as a community, progress is being made. Phosphorus is the root cause of algae – just one pound of this nutrient is capable of producing 500 pounds of algae.

“2016 was a great year. The water was as clear as it’s been in a long time in our lakes, but we got lucky,” said Clean Lakes Alliance executive director James Tye. “A slow spring melt and less intense rain events meant phosphorus-rich runoff to our lakes was down, but it shows us if we control runoff regularly, we can impact our lake clarity.”

Making Progress

Following the Yahara CLEAN Strategic Action Plan for Phosphorus Reduction, which was first published in 2012, the State of the Lakes Annual Report tracks progress on 14 cost-effective actions which will lead to cutting phosphorus in half, annually (46,200 pounds) by 2025.

In 2016, 29% of that goal (13,600 pounds of phosphorus) was successfully diverted from the lakes. That’s nearly a 10% increase over 2015, which shows the community is moving in the right direction.

The biggest improvements in 2016 came from increased practices in rural areas. Improved manure management, in-field conservation practices, and restored wetlands helped reduce phosphorus runoff from agricultural operations north of the watershed.

A Clear Path Forward

While the community is making progress in phosphorus reduction, continued “headwinds” like increased large rain events, invasive species, and a change in seasonal temperatures will force the need for additional action.

To narrow the focus of Yahara CLEAN, Clean Lakes Alliance developed Plan 2020: A Clear Path Forward. This plan addresses four community engagement areas – Education, Volunteerism, Monitoring, and Citizen Action, in order to make lakes a top priority for everybody. The plan also addresses four phosphorus reduction areas – Farmland Management, Leaf Management, Innovative Solutions, and Construction Erosion Reduction.

By targeting these areas over the next four years, the community can address headwinds and achieve success for phosphorus reduction projects.

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