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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Raking

Can garbage trucks help protect our lakes?

A partnership toward leaf management

Clean Lakes Alliance is excited to partner with the City of Madison for this month’s Clean Lakes Grant.

Leaf management is a crucial step toward reducing the amount of phosphorus that reaches our lakes. Through a Clean Lakes Grant awarded for 2018, the City of Madison is working to promote leaf management and leaf-free streets. Clean Lakes Alliance has contributed $4500, which will leverage a $9300 total project budget.

The City of Madison paired with the United States Geological Survey (USGS) to monitor phosphorus in the City’s storm drainage system. The study shows a direct correlation between the mass of leaves in the street and the amount of phosphorus reaching our lakes.

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The Yahara watershed cuts through the middle of Dane County and drains an area of nearly 536 square miles, but few realize the northernmost tip of the watershed lies in Columbia County. This small parcel of 28 square miles is now part of the community-wide partnership effort to reduce phosphorus runoff to the lakes. Columbia County has begun a two-year service agreement with Yahara WINS and is taking impressive steps forward in the name of healthy lakes.

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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.”

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Lake Mendota is the largest of the lakes in the Yahara chain. The watershed surrounding the lake is primarily agricultural, including many fourth and fifth generation dairy farms to the north, but is experiencing rapid urban growth.

Phosphorus that enters Lake Mendota from its tributaries are carried down the chain of lakes via the Yahara River and represent the largest sources of excess nutrients in the lower lakes. To improve water quality in the chain of lakes, we need to make improvements in the land surrounding Lake Mendota.

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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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mark-riedel

About the talk

Dr. Mark Riedel will provide an overview of what the Clean Water Act is, the intended goals, and how it is implemented. He will explain how, as the federally delegated state authority, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources implements the Clean Water Act. He’ll discuss how successful implementation happens with our diverse partners developing and implementing projects and practices to restore water quality in the Rock River Basin.

About our speaker

Dr. Mark Riedel is a Hydrologist and Project Manager with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. He has over 20 years of experience conducting water quality, river, and habitat restoration projects with the federal government, private industry, and the state of Wisconsin. Mark previously worked as a Senior Research Hydrologist with the US Forest Service – Coweeta Hydrologic Laboratory. In that role he conducted applied research to support water quality policies and practices for watershed management and restoration programs.

About the series

Yahara Lakes 101 is a series of educational events open to the public and a great chance for residents to learn more about the science behind the issues that affect our lakes. Each month we feature a different expert to make the science accessible and interesting to non-technical audiences. Yahara Lakes 101 is produced in partnership with the UW-Madison Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, with hosting sponsor The Edgewater, presenting sponsor First Weber Group, supporting sponsor The Evjue Foundation, and media sponsor The Isthmus.

Yahara 101 is held both indoors and outdoors (weather permitting) at The Edgewater. Come at 7:30 a.m. for a meet-and-greet and to enjoy your coffee, pastries, and fruit. The program begins at 8 a.m., and class is dismissed by 9 a.m.

If you already are a Friend of Clean Lakes (minimum $35 donation/year), then admission is free. Become a Friend today. If you are not a Friend yet, admission is $10 per event. Registration for each event is requested for all attendees. Special event parking will be available at The Edgewater.