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Friends of Clean Lakes sign at Shoreline Swim

A busy summer for our lakes

Summer in Madison would not be the same without our lakes. This year, especially, we’ve seen our lakes at their best and their worst due to record rain events, cyanobacteria blooms, and beach closures. Here at Clean Lakes Alliance, the summer is a time to get out and enjoy our lakes while also doubling down on our efforts to protect them. From innovative grant projects, to county policy recommendations, to record-setting engagement, we’ve been hard at work for our lakes this summer, and so have you! Let’s take a look back at some highlights from this lake season.

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Raking

Can garbage trucks help protect our lakes?

A partnership toward leaf management

Clean Lakes Alliance is excited to partner with the City of Madison for this month’s Clean Lakes Grant.

Leaf management is a crucial step toward reducing the amount of phosphorus that reaches our lakes. Through a Clean Lakes Grant awarded for 2018, the City of Madison is working to promote leaf management and leaf-free streets. Clean Lakes Alliance has contributed $4500, which will leverage a $9300 total project budget.

The City of Madison paired with the United States Geological Survey (USGS) to monitor phosphorus in the City’s storm drainage system. The study shows a direct correlation between the mass of leaves in the street and the amount of phosphorus reaching our lakes.

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Bernies Beach

Greater Madison is the lakes. With over 20 beaches and major lake access points (see map below), these gateways to our five lakes connect us to 58 miles of shoreline of which 48% is owned by YOU – the public!

Clean Lakes Alliance is working to elevate the profile of our public lakeshores, from swimming beaches and fishing piers to boat landings and waterfront parks. Please tell us about the beach you visit by taking this short (5 minutes) survey. You may take this survey for as many beaches as you’d like to comment on.

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Bubble barriers project

This summer, the Friends of Pheasant Branch Conservancy are testing the feasibility of a carp barrier in Pheasant Creek – thanks in part to support from a Clean Lakes Grant. We highlighted the grant award for the bubble barriers concept earlier in the summer and we’re very excited to share their progress!

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Ag retailer network

Can working with ag retailers help our lakes?

Building an agricultural partnership to reduce phosphorus

We’re excited to partner with the Partnership for Ag Resource Management, known as PARM, for one of this year’s Clean Lakes Grants.

PARM is a project of the Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Institute of North America, a non-profit devoted to improving health and the environment. Through a Clean Lakes Grant awarded for 2018, PARM is working with local agriculture retailers to increase sales of products and services to reduce phosphorus in the Yahara Watershed. Clean Lakes Alliance has contributed $8,000, which will leverage a $53,000 total project budget.

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2017 Farm Tour

Community Board signs Healthy Farms Healthy Lakes resolution

Dear Friends,

Our Clean Lakes Alliance Community Board met this morning and voted to support the eight draft recommendations proposed by Dane County’s Healthy Farms Healthy Lakes Task Force. That 14-member group was charged with developing policy proposals to reduce the impact of phosphorus runoff from agricultural activities to our five lakes. I serve on the task force along with other Clean Lakes Alliance partners.

On a parallel path, Clean Lakes Alliance’s Economic Impact and Policy Committee has also been meeting over the course of this past year, consulting with experts, scientists, and community leaders to develop advocacy goals that align with and help us achieve our Plan 2020: A Clear Path Forward.

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Volunteers test beaches for E. coli

Once a week during the beach season, Public Health Madison & Dane County tests our beaches for E. coli bacteria, which is an indicator for pathogens that might pose a human health risk.

These tests are important, because they help to close our beaches when it isn’t safe to swim. However, the labor involved with collecting samples and processing them in the lab makes testing expensive. While water conditions may change on a daily or even hourly basis, it usually isn’t feasible to test that frequently.

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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.

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Carp Barrier

Can bubble barriers stop carp?

Carp harvesting efforts have been underway for years in the Yahara River watershed, but more could be done to manage the population of invasive fish. In this month’s Clean Lakes Grants spotlight, we’re sharing the efforts of our partners at Friends of Pheasant Branch Conservancy, who are ready to tackle the challenge.

Friends of Pheasant Branch Conservancy is a not-for-profit organization devoted to protecting and restoring Pheasant Branch Conservancy on the northwest shore of Lake Mendota. Through a $8,750 grant awarded for 2018, the group will evaluate the feasibility of installing a new carp “bubble barrier” system on Pheasant Branch Creek to ultimately craft a recommendation and action plan for implementation.

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