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.”
County Executive Parisi’s budget plan states the lakes are not a singular solution away from being algae free. Clean Lakes Alliance continues to support this statement by working towards enacting the Yahara CLEAN Strategic Action Plan for Phosphorus Reduction. Adopted in 2012, this community driven report outlines 14 actions to reduce phosphorus. If fully implemented, it will reduce phosphorus reaching the lakes by 50% annually.
Rake Leaves, Help the Lakes
The county executive’s budget calls on farmers, municipalities, and community organizations to work together towards a common lake goal. One way urban residents in the watershed can help right now is by changing leaf-raking habits. Leaves in city streets act like a tea bag – when rain water passes through them in the street, it takes phosphorus with it into storm sewers, which flow directly to the lakes. If residents raked leaves OUT of the street up onto the terrace curb, runoff would not deliver this phosphorus-rich tea to the lakes.
“About half of the annual phosphorus that reaches the lakes from residential neighborhoods can happen in October and November when leaves are falling,” said Tye. “The more people can keep their curbs clear of leaves, the more they can help the lake,” he added.
To learn more about leaf-free streets, residents can log onto cleanlakesalliance.org/leaves and watch a leaf video.
Clean Lakes Alliance commends County Executive Parisi’s strong leadership towards lake projects, and looks to continue working with Dane County and other community partners to execute these lake-friendly budget programs. The more funding that goes towards the lakes, the more days residents and visitors will be able to experience clean and healthy beaches and water.
Photo by Abigail Becker