Lake Wingra

Lake Wingra June 2017

Lake Wingra

Lake Wingra is a small, shallow lake located in the City of Madison, and is connected to Lake Monona via Wingra (Murphy) Creek. The watershed is mostly urban but also includes the University of Wisconsin-Madison Arboretum.

Because of its urban environment, the lake faces many challenges, including excess nutrients and road salt (chloride) from urban runoff. The Lake Wingra Watershed Management Plan, adopted by partners in 2015, seeks to address these and other watershed issues.

Lake Wingra by the numbers

Yahara Watershed Map
The Yahara Watershed
  • Watershed area: 3,456 acres
  • Surface area: 345 acres
  • Shoreline: 4 miles
  • Maximum depth: 21 feet
  • Mean depth: 9 feet
  • Flushing rate: 1.3 years
Madison Magnet Kayaks for a Cause - Lake Wingra
Madison Magnet Kayaks for a Cause event on Lake Wingra in 2019

How was the water (2019)?

Lake water quality continues to benefit from a carp- removal project in 2008. Reducing carp numbers in small shallow lakes can be an effective strategy to improve water quality because non-native carp uproot submerged aquatic plants and stir up lake bottom sediment when foraging for food.

Lake Wingra Water Clarity 1996-2019

Lake Wingra water quality conditions are linked to the success of the March 2008 carp removal from the lake. Prior to the carp removal, during 1996- 2007, median summer clarity was 2.0 feet. After the carp removal, during 2008- 2017, median clarity was 3.7 feet, a major improvement for the shallow lake.

2019 average (July – August) water clarity and phosphorus concentrations both ranked “good,” according to Wisconsin DNR criteria for shallow lakes.

Lake Wingra 2019 Beach Closures

A reported high number of geese at Vilas Beach likely contributed to the 23 closures due to high E. coli. One Lake Wingra beach is monitored.

2019 community projects & inititatives

  • Friends of Lake Wingra worked with homeowners in the Vilas and Greenbush neighborhoods as part of a leaf-collection pilot with the City of Madison.
  • City of Madison launched the Vilas Park master planning process in 2019. Clean Lakes Alliance began serving on the advisory committee, advocating for green infrastructure and lake-friendly design concepts.

Organizations supporting Lake Wingra

The following groups work on water quality issues in the Wingra watershed. Consider contacting an organization near you to get involved!

City of Madison
Dane County
Friends of Lake Wingra
Madison Water Utility
Public Health Madison & Dane County
Yahara Watershed Improvement Network

Read about the other lakes in the Yahara Watershed

Here’s how Lake Wingra faired in previous years: