About Clean Lakes Alliance

Clean Lakes Alliance is a nonprofit organization devoted to improving the water quality of the lakes, streams, and wetlands of the Yahara River Watershed.

We are a unique partnership of diverse stakeholders who are building on and expanding upon decades of ongoing efforts to preserve and restore our waters.

Our goal is to raise community awareness of the issues facing the watershed, advocate for the welfare of our lakes, and help procure the necessary funding to clean and protect these waterways.

We work closely with state, county and local government agencies, waterway user groups, lakefront property owners, and community nonprofits to serve as both a positive voice for the promotion of our cherished lakes and a fundraising vehicle for achieving these ends.


Learn more about Clean Lakes Alliance:

Updated Vision (2023): We envision a community renowned for its healthy lakes, lands, and waters. Healthy Waters. Thriving Community.

Past Vision: We see a future in which everyone realizes that our lakes are the center of our community. Healthy Lakes. Healthy Community.

Updated Mission (2023): Our mission is to champion our lakes and watershed stewardship for the benefit of all.

Past Mission: Clean Lakes Alliance strives to continue building a community of people, businesses, organizations, and government agencies dedicated to improving and protecting water quality in the Yahara River Watershed and its lakes.

Passion  People who work here have a passion for what they do. Our energy drives membership and encourages support from the community. Because we are passionate and focused, we are able to accomplish more work in a shorter period of time.

Community Engagement – Our organization supports the involvement of all members of our community. Their involvement directs us and provides us with the opportunity to improve the quality of our lakes. We actively seek the involvement of the community by seeking advice, expertise, connections, and volunteerism.

Inclusion – Communities and agencies throughout the Greater Madison area, Dane County, and the entire Yahara River Watershed actively support our cause and have full faith and trust in our approach to improving the health of our lakes.

Solution Focused – Our approach involves actively solving the problems facing our watershed. We take a proactive approach and seek to make a positive impact on our community and our water quality in the shortest time possible. Clean Lakes Alliance will not point fingers or place blame. Instead, we will seek ways to get things done that create the greatest possible support from our partners.

Respect and Reverence for Water – We will be an advocate and educator regarding the importance of lake health to our local quality of life. Our goal is to create a lasting impact on every member of our community regarding the importance of our waterways, and to give citizens positive information on the role they play in maintaining their integrity.

The Early Years

The Clean Lakes Festival, which began in 2007, was organized by the Mad-City Water Ski Team in an effort to raise money to help clean up the lakes. On November 8, 2010, Clean Lakes Alliance was formed, evolving from a volunteer group into an official 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. The organization started developing and seeking members to become its first board. The first board meeting was held in January 2011.

Our management team consists of an executive board of directors that works closely with Clean Lakes Alliance executive staff to devise community engagement strategies, increase participation in lake activities and events, and create additional opportunities for outreach and education. A Community Board made up of stakeholders and partnering organizations provides us with additional direction in reaching our objectives and strengthening key relationships.

The Future

In 2012, Clean Lakes Alliance commissioned the Yahara CLEAN Strategic Action Plan for Phosphorus Reduction to cut phosphorus runoff to our lakes in half, which will mean clearer water and fewer algae blooms. Today, Clean Lakes Alliance is working to build community support and the financial resources necessary to reach our goal.

2021 was another year characterized by reimagined programs and events due to a continuing public-health emergency. It is a testament to Clean Lakes Alliance’s strength and adaptability that we are weathering the effects of a global pandemic while growing our overall base of support. With renewed attention to core program services, new event formats, and continued partnership building, we successfully emerged from another challenging year even healthier and more focused than ever. In just 11 years since its founding, Clean Lakes Alliance has grown to become one of the largest and most influential nonprofit lake organizations in the nation. Read highlights from 2021 in our Annual Report.

All water in the Yahara Watershed is connected. Our lakes, streams, wetlands, and groundwater make up critical components of an interdependent hydrologic system. Given the immeasurable value of clean drinking and surface water to Greater Madison, ALL our water resources demand respect, protection, and wise stewardship for the betterment of future generations. Read more about the connection between all water in the Yahara Watershed.

Working with others

Clean Lakes Alliance is working with community partners and collaborators to update our phosphorus reduction roadmap. This work will reassess phosphorus reduction targets, strategies, costs, and implementation roles and timelines. In 2018, the Dane County Healthy Farms Healthy Lakes Task Force recommended these planning updates. The objective is to both address challenges like climate change and to accelerate progress toward our water quality goals.

Clean Lakes Alliance published its four-year organizational strategy, Plan 2020: A Clear Path Forward (2017-2020). This strategic plan focuses resources on the eight most effective target areas to focus our work and leverage our strengths. Our action priorities continue to focus on the biggest contributor to lake problems, excessive phosphorus, while building a strong community of support for the lakes. We continue to advocate for establishing a dedicated source of funding to implement Yahara CLEAN.

Plan 2020: A Clear Path Forward

Plan 2020 focus areas

Phosphorus Actions

Since the founding of Clean Lakes Alliance in 2010, our primary focus has been phosphorus reduction in our lakes. Reductions need to come from both urban and rural sources. The following phosphorus reduction focus areas highlight our commitment to engaging government, business, and community members in developing and implementing solutions that will improve water quality for years to come.

  1. Yahara CLEAN Compact
  2. Innovative Solutions
  3. Farmland Management
  4. Urban Management

Community Engagement Actions

We see a future in which everyone realizes the lakes are the center of our community. Our community engagement focus areas help mobilize and empower stakeholders to protect and improve water quality in watershed. As citizens make the lakes a priority, it will spark action to make healthy lakes a reality.

  1. Education
  2. Volunteerism
  3. Monitoring
  4. Capacity Building

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