Clean Lakes Alliance volunteer monitors see improvements and mixed results
MADISON, Wis. — Clean Lakes Alliance has released results from the 2016 monitoring season on lakes Mendota, Monona, Wingra, Waubesa and Kegonsa. Over the past three years, the volunteer-based program has grown into an extensive 70-site effort to track water conditions near the shore, where most people interact with our lakes.
When many of us think composting, we think about throwing a banana peel or two on the heap. But composting has a place in agriculture too – three farms in the Yahara River watershed are implementing manure composting practices and seeing major benefits.
“The initiative Yahara Pride Farms has taken shows that farmers can do the composting process,” said Andy Skwor, agriculture team leader at MSA Professional Services Inc., a Midwest-based consulting firm.
We spoke with Andy last week about this exciting project to test both the costs and environmental benefits of windrow manure composting.
The future of water and people depends on the choices we make today – and the ideas we share with each other.
Engage your community or organization in a conversation about what you want for the future of water and people with the Yahara 2070 discussion guides.
Emily Jones, Pollution Prevention Specialist, Madison Metropolitan Sewerage District
Next time you’re at Camp Randall Stadium, take a look around and picture twenty 50-pound bags of water softener salt stacked on top of each of the 80,321 seats. That’s about how much salt makes its way down the drain and to Madison Metropolitan Sewerage District’s wastewater treatment plant every year.
But the salt doesn’t stop there. The treatment plant isn’t designed to remove salt, so salt passes through the plant into local streams, where it can threaten freshwater life. Removing salt at the treatment plant would be expensive and energy-intensive, so MMSD is working to protect water more efficiently by reducing the salt that goes down the drain.
Zebra mussels, a native of Europe and Asia, have recently established a reproducing population in lakes Mendota and Monona. These little filter-feeding organisms can negatively impact native lake ecosystems. Although they might increase water clarity by feeding on zooplankton, green algae and other debris, zebra mussels do not eat blue-green algae. This means they can deplete the water of important fish food and natural algae grazers. Zebra mussels may also damage boat hulls and engines and cut the feet of swimmers. Zebra mussels are difficult to eradicate once established in a water body.
Clean Lakes Alliance is working with Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and UW-Madison Center For Limnology to track zebra mussel population establishment and expansion in the Yahara chain of lakes and could use your help!
Soil is a farmer’s best asset. It provides the nutrients for crops to grow and prosper. To enrich their soil, farmers use various conservation practices to ensure the vitality for generations to come. One such practice is utilizing cover crops, which are grown to improve the soil rather than for profit.
Jeff Endres, chair of Yahara Pride Farms, is doing his best to protect the soil on his farm. Endres planted a pea and barley mix in mid-August after he harvested his winter wheat this July. After he finishes harvesting his corn this fall, he will plant barley. He has found these cover crops to improve his soil and help with the future crop.
At Clean Lakes Alliance, we know keeping our lakes healthy is a community job.
Our partners at Dane County, the City of Madison, the Yahara Watershed Improvement Network, and numerous local municipalities and agencies commit significant time and resources to our lakes. Clean Lakes Alliance works closely with the staff and leadership to support this work and to raise public support for healthy lakes. Clean Lakes Alliance’s work to improve water quality is fueled by the community at large. We rely on support from people like you, donations made by businesses, money raised through events and sponsorships, contributions of time, skills or, equipment, and, of course, by grants. We regularly receive grants from both local and national organizations—which allow our work to be applied beyond our immediate community.
Restoration Efforts Underway for Historic Madison Ice Yacht
On a cold, bright day in February 2016, an iconic piece of Madison’s history came home in memorable style. As the wind freshened, the towering sails of the Mary B iceboat filled and the 39-foot craft took flight—skimming across the ice with the same grace and agility that drew crowds of cheering onlookers to Madison’s lakes more than 60 years ago. That short-but-triumphant cruise was the first of what an enthusiastic group of fans hope will be many such adventures for the venerable Mary B.
Until last fall, most folks knew Don Sanford as one of the pack of “water rats” who raced their sleek, wind-powered craft on the waves and ice of Madison’s lakes. But with the publication of a book 12 years in the making, Sanford took on an unlikely new role: keeper of the history and lore of Lake Mendota.
“I’ve always been a sailor, never a writer,” says Sanford, an agile-looking man with a grizzled beard and sea-grey eyes behind wire rim glasses. “When I started the project, the last thing I had written was in grad school back in 1974.” Yet he dove in, driven by knowledge that Lake Mendota was too often a mystery to the people who lived along its shores. “I’d pick up friends from the Memorial Union for a boat ride, and we would start cruising down the shoreline. Without fail, somebody who’d spent their whole life in Madison would say, ‘Where the hell are we? I don’t know what this place is.’ Whenever that happened,” Sanford recalls, “it always made me think that somebody— somebody else, that is—should produce a lake guide.”