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Bernies Beach

A shared vision for clean, safe, and accessible lakes

In August 2019, leaders from government, business, and nonprofit organizations came together with a shared vision. The vision included a future in which Greater Madison’s five Yahara lakes are clean, safe, and accessible for everyone. Together, the 19 partners and collaborators formed the Yahara CLEAN Compact and committed to sharing resources and working together to curb pollution and chart the best path forward to cleaner, healthier lakes.

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2019 Thankful For

Things we’re thankful for at Clean Lakes Alliance

At Clean Lakes Alliance, we’re thankful to be part of a community that is surrounded by five beautiful lakes. Our Yahara lakes provide ecological diversity, recreational opportunities, economic benefits, and endless beauty to the Greater Madison area, its residents, and guests.

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Cyanobacteria on Lake Mendota at the Memorial Union

Cyanobacteria

All five Yahara lakes saw cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) blooms throughout the summer of 2019. One bloom in particular on Lake Mendota was quite large, covering at least an area from Picnic Point to the Memorial Union on August 1st. The bloom was well-documented by photos from community members as having a green pea soup-like consistency.

Cyanobacteria blooms are often bright green, but can also appear in shades of brown, blue, and white. Typically, blooms are spotted on warm days with calm winds. On August 1st, Madison reported a high of 81 degrees with an average wind speed of two miles per hour. 

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Middleton Stormwater Retention Pond

Clean Lakes Grants support phosphorus reduction and education

With the completion of the 2018-2019 Clean Lakes Grants cycle, Clean Lakes Alliance has given out more than $1,000,000 in project support since 2011. This landmark achievement fulfills our mission of building capacity among our partner organizations and supporting on-the-ground practices for clean, healthy lakes. The Yahara River Watershed is a large and complex system and will require a community-wide effort to improve water quality.

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Press conference announcing Dane County's 160 acre land purchase

Pheasant Branch Conservancy set to grow by 160 acres

On Thursday, May 16th, Dane County announced plans to purchase 160 acres of property for conservation. The property acquisition will be the largest conservation preservation investment in the county’s history, costing nearly 10 million dollars.

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Lake Mendota Ice

This is the start of something big

A message from Clean Lakes Alliance Executive Director, James Tye

Dear Friends,

As we close the books on a difficult year for our lakes, I want to take a moment to reflect on what went well, and what we can do to start 2019 off in the right direction.

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Leaf Management

Trees are good, right?

Statewide phosphorus reduction credits for leaf collection

Urban trees provide many benefits to our communities. They help us save energy, reduce noise, and improve air quality. Trees are aesthetically pleasing, can increase property value, and provide natural homes for insects, birds, and other wildlife. Trees are also an important part of the earth’s water cycle. Transpiration from plants and trees is released into the atmosphere, and later becomes precipitation. The rain and snow return valuable moisture to our crops and forests, and the cycle continues.

However, trees can cause problems for our lakes if the leaves that fall from them each autumn are not regularly removed from streets and parking lots. When leaves collect on streets, they create a phosphorus-rich “tea” whenever it rains. The rain water passes through the leaf litter, and allows phosphorus to drain from the leaves. The leaf tea washes into storm drains and flows directly into our lakes, causing water quality to deteriorate.

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