2018 Flooding

Yahara Lakes Water Quality Monitoring – 2018 Results


From May to September, volunteers at piers and beaches around the five Yahara lakes measured near-shore water clarity, air and water temperature, and noted several visual observations. Visual observations included presence of algal blooms (green/blue-green), floating plant debris, swimmers, waterfowl, wave intensity, and general water appearance. Volunteers were asked to log condition reports at a twice weekly minimum on our website,, where all data are updated in real time.


  • 79 near-shore and 7 offshore monitoring stations on all five Yahara lakes (Figure 1)
  • Weekly off-shore measurement of Secchi depth on all five lakes
  • Measured temperature and dissolved oxygen profiles on all five lakes (seven sites total)
  • Weekly monitoring continued at all 25 public beaches
  • 44% increase in number of condition reports from 2017 (Table 1)
  • Collected continuous near-shore temperature measurements at 17 sites on lakes Mendota, Monona, and Waubesa, and Kegonsa
  • Implemented E. coli sampling and cyanobacteria toxin testing pilots
  • Averaged 2.3 condition reports per site each week across all sites
  • Continued weekly Weekend Lake Reports with over 77,000 views on social media
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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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With 58 miles of lakeshore in our watershed, shoreline maintenance is a big job. We’re lucky to have dedicated staff and community groups working to keep our parks and beaches healthy – but sometimes, there just aren’t enough hands to get the job done. That’s where our summer volunteer groups come in!

A summer to remember

So far this season, there have been 15 Renew the Blue volunteer days, for a total of 457 volunteers and 1,481 hours maintaining our lakeshores over the season. These events serve double duty: our lakeshore parks get some much-needed TLC, and volunteers learn more about keeping our watershed healthy.

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Since 2012, Frozen Assets has raised more than a half of a million dollars for our lakes. Every year, the event highlights the  value of our lakes to local quality of life, all year round. This year, we hope you’ll join in on the fun as an event volunteer!
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Are you ready to take action on behalf of our lakes? Ever wonder about water quality conditions and trends off your own pier or at your favorite beach? If yes, don’t pass up this opportunity! A limited number of openings are available for those who want to join this popular and highly successful near-shore monitoring program. You will:

  • Take on the role of a lake scientist
  • Measure real-time, near-shore water quality conditions
  • Help researchers better understand how algal blooms develop and migrate around the lake
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This month, we’re challenging you to help a neighbor!

Spending a few minutes helping out a neighbor can brighten someone’s day and make a big difference for water quality. This month, we’re challenging the clean lakes community to spend 5 minutes raking a neighbor’s leaves out of the street gutters. Bonus points to those who submit photos of the good deed in action to

Join one of our watershed partners at their annual river clean-up event:

Friends of the Yahara River Headwaters annual clean-up event Saturday, September 26th, 2015 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Meet at Veterans Memorial Park, DeForest (N. Main Street) Distribute to various locations Waders provided, or bring yours if you have them. Bring warm clothes and good work gloves. Lunch included.
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The Friends of Clean Lakes will be hosting their third annual Fore! Lakes Golf Outing — an entirely volunteer-run event that raises funds for our clean lakes efforts. The event is coming up quickly and we are still in need of dedicated “score-walkers,” harkening back to the days before electronic score keeping. Each score walker will be assigned to a golf team and will accompany the team throughout the course, keeping score on a specially-built sign. No previous knowledge of golf is required.
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