Columbia County joins the Yahara Watershed Improvement Network

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.

Yahara WINS, also known as Yahara Watershed Improvement Network, is an initiative to create cleaner and clearer lakes in the Yahara Watershed. They help implement a strategy of phosphorous mitigation called watershed adaptive management, where all sources of phosphorus work together to improve water quality.  This often involves partnering with municipalities, wastewater treatment plants, farmers, non-profits, and other stakeholders to proactively reduce runoff before it reaches waterways.

Columbia County will receive a  $50,000 grant from Yahara WINS to fund improvements in agricultural and urban practices to minimize phosphorous entering our waterways. They join the ranks of two dozen other Yahara WINS partners who are devoted to the same cause. This generosity with time and resources towards phosphorous runoff minimization is what’s needed to make a dent in the problem.

By joining, Columbia County is taking charge to control contributions of phosphorous in their area to help our lakes. They are setting a great example that no parcel of land is too big or too small to start making a difference to benefit the community. One pound of phosphorous can produce up to 500 pounds of algae, making each contribution count.

Congratulations to Columbia County and Yahara WINS; we can’t wait to watch this partnership blossom over the next two years and beyond!

Columbia County Fast Facts

  • 5% of the Yahara Watershed is in Columbia County
  • Majority of this area is dedicated to agriculture
  • This area is an internally draining watershed (endorheic basin), common for areas formed by glaciers
  • Yahara River does not directly run through Columbia County but groundwater, agricultural ditches and other water sources from this county flow down into the Yahara
  • Columbia County may reduce phosphorus by 280 pounds in order to meet help meet Yahara Watershed’s longterm water quality objectives
  • Columbia County and Dane County’s portion of the Yahara Watershed are also a part of the Lower Rock River Watershed
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