Blog

Leaf Management

Trees are good, right?

Statewide phosphorus reduction credits for leaf collection

Urban trees provide many benefits to our communities. They help us save energy, reduce noise, and improve air quality. Trees are aesthetically pleasing, can increase property value, and provide natural homes for insects, birds, and other wildlife. Trees are also an important part of the earth’s water cycle. Transpiration from plants and trees is released into the atmosphere, and later becomes precipitation. The rain and snow return valuable moisture to our crops and forests, and the cycle continues.

However, trees can cause problems for our lakes if the leaves that fall from them each autumn are not regularly removed from streets and parking lots. When leaves collect on streets, they create a phosphorus-rich “tea” whenever it rains. The rain water passes through the leaf litter, and allows phosphorus to drain from the leaves. The leaf tea washes into storm drains and flows directly into our lakes, causing water quality to deteriorate.

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Action Alert

Will you help us advocate for our lakes?

We need your help!

At our Yahara Lakes 101 presentation, on Wednesday, October 10th, we heard from Dane County Executive Joe Parisi about the proposed 2019 budget and how it will address flooding concerns and lake health. The Dane County Board is holding a budget hearing on Wednesday, October 17th. There are many initiatives in the budget that will help our lakes, and they need YOUR support! Please advocate for our lakes in the following two ways:

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EIPC Meeting

It takes ALL of us to make a difference

Help Clean Lakes Alliance advocate for change

In Greater Madison, the time has come to put lakes at the top of our community agenda. Recent flooding and historically large cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) blooms are symptoms of a changing climate and a harder, less resilient landscape. The Center for Climatic Research has documented southern Wisconsin’s increasingly wet climate, with more frequent heavy rain events causing flooding throughout the region. This is impacting lake water quality by bringing increased sediment and nutrient pollution to our lakes and streams. We need a change in how we manage the landscape surrounding our homes, farm fields, and city streets to accommodate a wetter climate in our region.

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Wednesday rain causes visible runoff into Lake Mendota

Controlling construction erosion

Grant Feature #1: Construction erosion inspections with Dane County

Did you know that construction erosion is a serious and ongoing threat to our lakes? Controlling construction erosion is one of 14 recommended actions to reduce algae blooms in the Yahara CLEAN Strategic Action Plan for Phosphorus Reduction. It is also one of eight focus areas in Plan 2020: A Clear Path Forward, Clean Lakes Alliance’s strategic operating plan.

With every failed, missing or improperly installed erosion-control measure, the risk of dirty runoff entering our lakes rises each time it rains. Whether this leads to a muddy street or a dirt-choked storm sewer drain, a mismanaged construction project can spell big trouble for water quality.

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Funding for environmental conservation, restoration, and education projects has been awarded this year by the Dane County Environmental Council totaling more than $17,000. These grants go to communities and non-profits that do work within Dane County.

Clean Lakes Alliance will receive around $3,500 to fund projects such as our farm tours and water quality monitoring. This award will help to purchase necessary equipment for our volunteers and provide transportation to offsite projects.

Dane County Executive Joe Parisi said, “We can always accomplish more when we work together. By partnering with these communities and non-profits, we have the ability to educate and inspire others, and continue our work to improve and conserve the county’s outdoor spaces,” and we couldn’t agree more!

To see which other projects were funded, read Sun Prairie Star’s article HERE.

MADISON, Wis. — On Monday, Dane County Executive Joe Parisi announced an aggressive 2018 budget, with numerous projects aimed at diverting and removing algae-causing phosphorus from lakes in the Yahara Watershed. The multi-million dollar proposed budget calls for continuing to remove legacy sediment from streams feeding into Madison’s lakes, as well as new projects like prairie restorations and a pilot “algae pump” to remove scum from surface water.

“Our mission looks to build a community of people, businesses, organizations, and government agencies dedicated to improving and protecting water quality in the Yahara River watershed,” said Clean Lakes Alliance Executive Director James Tye. “The county executive’s lake projects are a strong step in the right direction towards cleaner and healthier lakes.”

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message from Dane County Executive

A message from Joe Parisi, the Dane County Executive, for the 2016 State of the Lakes Annual Report: 

Two years ago, I put $60,000 in the county budget to analyze the water quality and phosphorus content of miles of streams that feed into our Yahara lakes. A year of research later, the findings are stark: if we don’t remove sludge from the bottom of these streams, it will take 99 years to see a 50% reduction in phosphorus that finds its way into our lakes.

Dane County will invest $12 million over the next four years to remove 870,000 pounds of this phosphorus – Dane County’s boldest, most tangible effort yet to improving the health and vitality of waters so integral to our economy and quality of life. This breakthrough project is the cornerstone of this year’s $10 million lakes clean-up county budget.

The data says what’s been done to date has worked at reducing what nutrients go on the land, when they’re applied, and most importantly, keeping them there. County staff and farmers have implemented conservation practices on 90% of the acres in the watershed and nutrient management plans have been completed on 75% of cropland. Soil testing shows farmlands in the watershed are on average already two times better than state standards for phosphorus.

We’re making progress, but we can’t reach our goal without getting at what’s already in the water. The project will return the stream bottoms to the way they were in 1890, allowing for new fisheries and healthy habitats for wildlife.

A significant component of what hurts our lakes is already in our waters. This budget starts the work of getting it out, removing 125 years of accrued sediment. Kevin Connors and his team of engineers at our Land and Water Resources Department should be commended for crafting such a common sense solution.

 

This message was originally published in May of 2017 for the 2016 State of the Lakes Annual Report.

Nutrient Concentration System

Dear Friends of Clean Lakes,

Clean Lakes Alliance is very proud of the progress our community has made towards enacting the Yahara CLEAN Strategic Action Plan for Reducing Phosphorus. Dane County has been a leader in supporting clean water since the start. Just this past year, a $12-million, county-funded initiative to remove phosphorus-laced sediment from 33 miles of Yahara streams over five years helped further our common goal of healthy lakes.

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