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Greater Madison flooding impacts our lakes

James Madison Park Flood

Flooding impacts the Yahara Watershed

Record rainfall reported

Record rainfall hit Greater Madison this month, and its impacts are far-reaching. Ten to fifteen inches of rain fell across western Dane County in less than 24 hours. The high volume of water is now making its way downstream through the Yahara Watershed, with our lakes reaching historic high levels. See real-time lake levels here.

Local government works to regulate water flow

Dane County Land and Water Resources strives to maintain target water levels by regulating flows through dams within the five lakes in the Yahara chain (Mendota, Monona, Wingra, Waubesa, and Kegonsa). Dane County relocated weed harvesters to specific areas to help with water flow, and removed more than 270 loads of aquatic plants.

Climate change and our lakes

As Wisconsin’s climate changes, chances of seeing intense rain events will increase. UW-Madison Center for Limnology wrote about how climate change is affecting our lakes in a recent blog post.

The impacts of the large rain event on our lake ecology will likely be studied for years to come. One repercussion already being closely monitored is an increase in the warm top layer of water (epilimnion) on Lake Mendota. The layer, usually less than two feet deep, now stretches down ten feet.

Take action to protect our lakes

In the meantime, we know many small actions create sustainable change. There are ways to take action in our own neighborhoods, like building rain gardens, directing downspouts toward lawns and gardens, using porous asphalt, or conserving rainwater to use it more effectively. If we all take action, we will protect our lakes and aquifer, and help our flood-prone neighbors.

We can ALL be advocates for change to reduce future risk of flooding, and to protect public safety. Clean Lakes Alliance is committed to protecting our lakes through lake improvement projects, educational programming, and water quality monitoring. We hope you’ll join us in support of the waters we all love.

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