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Cyanobacteria on Lake Mendota at the Memorial Union

Cyanobacteria

All five Yahara lakes saw cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) blooms throughout the summer of 2019. One bloom in particular on Lake Mendota was quite large, covering at least an area from Picnic Point to the Memorial Union on August 1st. The bloom was well-documented by photos from community members as having a green pea soup-like consistency.

Cyanobacteria blooms are often bright green, but can also appear in shades of brown, blue, and white. Typically, blooms are spotted on warm days with calm winds. On August 1st, Madison reported a high of 81 degrees with an average wind speed of two miles per hour. 

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Lake Monona sunrise

Plan your summer bucket list

Make the most of the Yahara lakes this summer

Sometimes it feels like summer is the shortest season of the year, so why not plan your summer bucket list now?! We are lucky to live in the Greater Madison area, with countless opportunities to enjoy the outdoors. This summer, why not make the lakes a part of your plans? Clean Lakes Alliance has put together a summer bucket list to keep you cool until the seasons change.

1. Hop on a log (log-rolling)

Not for the meek, log rolling is a fun activity for anyone looking to burst their fitness bubble and try something new. This wet and wild activity is the result of friendly competition between loggers back in the 1800s. Madison Log Rolling decided to rekindle that spirit and teach lessons on Lake Wingra. Summon your inner lumberjack and see if you have what it takes to stand on the log.

Log rolling on Lake Wingra - Courtesy Madison Log Rolling
Log rolling on Lake Wingra (Courtesy Madison Log Rolling)
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Bubble barriers project

This summer, the Friends of Pheasant Branch Conservancy are testing the feasibility of a carp barrier in Pheasant Creek – thanks in part to support from a Clean Lakes Grant. We highlighted the grant award for the bubble barriers concept earlier in the summer and we’re very excited to share their progress!

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Volunteers test beaches for E. coli

Once a week during the beach season, Public Health Madison & Dane County tests our beaches for E. coli bacteria, which is an indicator for pathogens that might pose a human health risk.

These tests are important, because they help to close our beaches when it isn’t safe to swim. However, the labor involved with collecting samples and processing them in the lab makes testing expensive. While water conditions may change on a daily or even hourly basis, it usually isn’t feasible to test that frequently.

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Lake Mendota Watershed

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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In May, Clean Lakes Alliance renewed a partnership with UW-Madison Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) Department to support and sponsor the student capstone course focused on improving our beaches.

In this course, Senior Capstone Design, sponsoring partners who require creative solutions to specific problems team up with senior engineering students. Students create innovative designs to solve real problems by using knowledge and skills from classwork and work experiences, along with the guidance of volunteer professional mentors.

Clean Lakes Alliance is proud to be a sponsoring partner of the student capstone projects. Serving as a “client” to the students provides us a captive audience and valuable resource as we continue our work in inspiring the community to advocate for healthy lakes and beaches. In the meantime, students gain experience in designing solutions to not only environmental challenges but also an actual client’s needs. With 48 percent of the shoreline owned by the public and over 20 beaches in the Greater Madison area, we have numerous project opportunities for the students.

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Madison - Lake Monona

Our lakes are at the center of our community, but did you know that the shoreline of Lake Mendota almost looked entirely different? Test your knowledge of the history and ecology of the five Madison lakes!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beach inventory

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.

Healthy Farms Healthy Lakes Task Force - Closeup of cow

Our lakes face challenges from urban and rural sources of phosphorus. A new Dane County “Healthy farms, Healthy Lakes” Task Force will focus on agricultural sources of phosphorus, with a goal to promote thriving farms and healthy lakes.

The Healthy Farms, Health Lakes Task Force is a coalition of farmers, government agencies, and environmental advocacy groups, including Clean Lakes Alliance, that was formed in July of 2017. The group hopes to release a blueprint of how to best help both farmers and the lakes by the end of this year.

Learn more about this task force in The Cap Times’ article.