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Flooded pier on Lake Mendota

Clean Lakes Alliance’s Statement to Dane County Lake Level Task Force

This statement was presented by Clean Lakes Alliance Executive Director James Tye to the Dane County Lake Level Task Force on March 5, 2019.

Clean Lakes Alliance applauds the leadership of the Dane County Board and Dane County Executive in putting $12 million toward flood recovery and lake improvement projects in the 2019 budget, and in creating the Technical Work Group and this task force to address recent flooding around the Yahara Chain of Lakes. We believe these initiatives help move us toward becoming a more resilient community.

But we need to work together as a community to address the increasing volume of water and runoff BEFORE it enters our lakes and waterways. In addition to last summer’s flooding, we experienced heavy rain and high phosphorus loading during late winter and early spring, then massive cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) blooms and extensive beach closures. One intense bloom extended across much of Lake Mendota and persisted for three days in late June (June 27th – June 29th).

With the amount of developed area in the watershed nearly doubling since 1970 (41,000 to 75,000 acres), and greater amounts of precipitation and intense storm events accounting for about 50% of observed increases in Yahara River flows (according to Dane County), there is a growing need for more holistic, landscape-based solutions. These are solutions that prioritize infiltration and reducing runoff, and that address the sources and root causes of these problems.

Flooding at James Madison Park - 2018

Investing in urban projects like retention basins, permeable pavement, rain gardens, and other green infrastructure will be of critical importance. In rural areas, we support the new Dane County Conservation Reserve Program that converts lands at greater risk of runoff to prairies and grasses. We also support conservation acquisitions, especially in the upper reaches of the watershed.

Clean Lakes Alliance is also on record as supporting the recommendations of the Stormwater Technical Advisory Committee of the Dane County Lakes & Watershed Commission and the Capitol Area Regional Planning Commission. These recommendations include the need to increase infiltration as part of new and redevelopment projects, funding volume control practices in both urban and rural areas, and maintaining internally drained basins in the watershed. Given that seven of the eleven record summer rainfalls in our region have occurred since 2000, this need will only grow.

As this task force considers policy changes to address flood risks, we want to express our support for the work of the technical work group in layout out options for the short term, such as strategies for improving water flow through the system. But we also want to encourage the county to address the longer-term need to address increasing runoff volumes in a way that reduces both the risk of floods AND improves water quality.

Thank you for the important work you are doing on this task force and for all you are doing for our lakes.

Lake Mendota Ice

This is the start of something big

A message from Clean Lakes Alliance Executive Director, James Tye

Dear Friends, As we close the books on a difficult year for our lakes, I want to take a moment to reflect on what went well, and what we can do to start 2019 off in the right direction.
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About the talk Madison is defined by its lakes. The five lakes of the upper Yahara River create Madison’s unique geography as well as the recreational opportunities that enrich life in Dane County. Fishing is one of the outstanding recreational activities the lakes provide. Each lake has its own character and resulting fish community – the different species of fish one can expect to find. David’s presentation will discuss the methods the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources uses to survey and assess the fishes of the Madison lakes as well as an overview of each of the five lakes and their fish. We’ll also be joined by local fishing guide Austin Ragotzkie of Blue Ribbon Outdoors who will give an angler’s perspective on fishing the five Yahara lakes. About our speakers David Rowe is the Fitchburg-area Fisheries Team Supervisor with the Wisconsin DNR.  David has worked for the department since 1998 when he started as an LTE with DNR Fisheries Research.  David grew up in Middleton Wisconsin, completed a Bachelor of Science in Zoology at University of Wisconsin- Madison, a Bachelor of Science in Education at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh and a Masters of Science in Fisheries Biology at Iowa State University. Austin Ragotzkie is a local fishing guide with Blue Ribbon Outdoors. Blue Ribbon Outdoors, founded in 2012, provides quality outdoors experiences in Southern Wisconsin as a premier guide service and outfitter. Blue Ribbon offers Lake Michigan charters, guided duck hunting trips, and ice fishing and shanty rentals on the Madison chain of lakes. 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.

About the talk: What do invasive zebra mussels and spiny water flea mean for water quality in the Madison lakes?

The Madison lakes have been invaded by two new invasive species in recent years – spiny water flea in 2009 and zebra mussel in 2015. Both species have important implications for the Madison lakes and the ongoing efforts to improve water quality through phosphorus loading reductions. Dr. Jake Vander Zanden talk about what these invasions mean for our lakes and water quality moving forward.

About our speaker

Jake Vander Zanden is a Professor at the Center for Limnology, University of Wisconsin – Madison. His research aims to understand how human activity impacts our lakes, and what we can do about it. Many of his recent studies have focused on the role of aquatic invasive species. While the primary emphasis of his work is the study of Wisconsin’s lakes, he has also worked in places such as Mongolia, Iceland, Mexico, and New Zealand. He maintains an active outreach program, and teaches the popular ‘Limnology’ and ‘Ecology of Fishes’ courses at UW-Madison. 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.

About the talk Achieving a future with clean and healthy lakes and rivers requires new ways of thinking. This talk will present and engage participants in two innovative thinking tools that can enhance community engagement efforts among lake associations and related organizations. ThinkWater is a national initiative to promote and enable systems thinking in water education, outreach, and research. Yahara 2070 is a Wisconsin-based scenarios project intended to encourage long-term thinking in decision-making about land and water. Participants will walk away with a better understanding of these related ways of thinking and how they can employ them in their own outreach efforts. About our speakers
Jenny Siefert is the Science Writer and Outreach Coordinator at the UW-Madison Water Sustainability and Climate Project.
Jeremy Solin is the Wisconsin ThinkWater Coordinator at University of Wisconsin-Extension.
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.

About the talk Dane County’s Science-based Approach to Regulating Construction Site Erosion Since 1995 Dane County has implemented performance and science based erosion control standards on construction sites. Jeremy Balousek will discuss the advantages of using performance based requirements and how the county uses factors such as rainfall energy, soil types, slopes, and other site conditions to model the potential soil loss from construction sites. He will show how Dane County sets and implements performance standards based on the potential soil loss to limit the amount of soil that may leave a construction site. Examples of the success and lessons learned from this approach will be presented. About our speaker Jeremy Balousek, P.E., is the Water Resource Engineering Division Manager for the Dane County Land and Water Resources Department in Madison, Wisconsin. In his position he is responsible for leading the implementation of the countywide erosion control and stormwater management programs. Mr. Balousek received his B.S. and M.S in Soil and Water Engineering from the University of Wisconsin – Madison. Jeremy is a licensed Professional Engineer and also on the Board of Directors of the North American Stormwater and Erosion Control Association (NASECA). 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.

In Madison, Wisconsin, you can’t “say it all” until you’ve said Mendota, Monona, Wingra, Waubesa and Kegonsa. These five lakes are an integral part of our culture, and one of the major reasons Madison ranks as a “most livable” city year after year. Their waters entice us to visit, work or study here, and often to stay. When our lakes are healthy, our communities can flourish. That is the philosophy behind our work: Healthy Lakes. Healthy Communities.
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