Frigid air temperatures, combined with cold water and low winds, helped Lake Mendota officially freeze on December 25th, 2022. The declaration came from the Wisconsin State Climatology Office. Lake Mendota, the largest lake in the Yahara Watershed, froze five days after December 20th. December 20th is the median ice-on date for the largest lake in the Yahara River Watershed. The Christmas Day freeze date is over a month shy of January 30th – which is the latest date that ice-on has ever been declared (1/30/1932).
Clean Lakes Grants awarded to local initiatives
Since Clean Lakes Alliance’s founding in 2010, the organization has awarded more than $1.4 million in grants. The grants fund a variety of lake-related projects and practices. This year, Clean Lakes Alliance awarded $100,000 in grants to community groups around our watershed looking to make a difference for our lakes. Below is an update on how some of those organizations have used the funds.
LakeForecast water quality monitoring in 2022
In 2022, our volunteers embarked on the 10th season of LakeForecast water quality monitoring. This work involved collecting nearshore condition reports at piers, beaches, parks, and access points around the five Yahara lakes. From May through September, volunteers measured water clarity, recorded air and water temperature, identified the presence of green algae and cyanobacteria, and noted additional visual observations. Reports are entered into the LakeForecast app where all data are updated in real time.
Dane County Executive Joe Parisi recently introduced a 2023 budget proposal that could be a game changer for our lakes. The budget proposal includes an initial $3 million investment for a proposed study for a third Dane County manure digester. If approved, the proposal will lay the groundwork for the design and siting of a regional cow manure processing facility. The proposed budget follows the release of RENEW THE BLUE: A Community Guide for Cleaner Lakes & Beaches in the Yahara Watershed.
Clean Lakes Alliance is proud to partner with the Wisconsin Executive Residence Foundation, along with other local organizations, to fund and implement a lakeshore restoration along 294 feet of Lake Mendota shoreline. Located at the iconic Executive Residence, the project will replace 7,184 square feet of existing turf with 32 species of native plants, wildflowers, grasses, and shrubs. In all, a total of 3,177 native plants will be added to the shoreline area!
By Pete Jopke, Water Resources Planner with the Dane County Land & Water Resources Department
Article first published in the 2022 Greater Madison Lake Guide, a Clean Lakes Alliance publication
Aquatic plant harvesting on the Yahara lakes
The Dane County Land & Water Resources Department manages an aquatic plant harvesting program with much of the harvesting occurring on lakes Mendota, Monona, Waubesa, and Kegonsa. Occasionally, other smaller waterbodies are harvested to aid in recreation and invasive plant management. The program dates to the early 1980’s when five harvesters were in operation. In those years, harvests totaled over 300 tons of plant material. In 2021, the existing fleet of 12 harvesters recorded plant harvests of more than 12,000 tons!
Our watershed is full of well-known, well-visited locations. But there are some you may have missed. Check out these gems, hidden in plain sight.
On May 18th, 2022, more than 300 leaders throughout the Greater Madison-Dane County region met at The Edgewater on the shores of Lake Mendota. The meeting celebrated what promises to be a new era of collaboration to benefit our local waters. With a collective call to “Renew the Blue,” a 19-member coalition of organizations introduced what some might describe as a stakeholder declaration to a sold-out audience.
LakeForecast water quality monitoring in 2021
In 2021, our volunteers embarked on the 9th season of LakeForecast water quality monitoring. This work involved collecting nearshore condition reports at piers, beaches, parks, and access points around the five Yahara lakes. From May through September, volunteers took water quality measurements. They measured water clarity, recorded air and water temperature, identified the presence of green algae and cyanobacteria, and noted additional visual observations. Reports are entered into the LakeForecast app where all data are updated in real time.
Thank you for supporting our lakes at the Frozen Assets Festival
We had so much fun at the Frozen Assets Festival and hope you did too! Whether you participated in person or virtually, we THANK YOU for supporting lakes Mendota, Monona, Wingra, Waubesa, and Kegonsa!