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Lake-O-Gram Vol. III Issue 3

Happy Start-of-Summer from the Clean Lakes Alliance! We are geared up and ready for a busy summer packed full with opportunities for you to engage with the lakes and Clean Lakes Alliance.

Yahara Lakes 101

Citizen Water Quality Monitoring Pilot Program

Renew the Blue Volunteer Days

More Cow Power = Cleaner Lakes

Volunteer of the Year

Clean Lakes Alliance’s New Policy & Program Director

Upcoming Events

Last month, Clean Lakes Alliance kicked off our brand new Yahara Lakes 101 speaker series with a fantastic program on the relationship between lawn care and water quality by UW Madison Department of Soil Science professor, Dr. Doug Soldat. Our kickoff event was a great success with a full house and an abundance of positive feedback, and we thank our Monthly Sponsor Weed Man Lawn Care. We have a line-up of stellar scientists scheduled well into the fall to speak to us all about the science behind the issues that affect our beloved lakes. Come for a coffee and light breakfast on the beautiful lake patio here at the Verex Plaza, and learn about your lakes with Mendota as our backdrop.

The details:

  • Yahara Lakes 101 – the science of the lakes made interesting and accessible through presentations and Q&A with local experts
  • Second Thursdays of the month: June 13, July 11, Aug 8, Sep 12, Oct 10
  • Doors open at 7:30am in Bluephie’s café and the lake patio on the lower level of the Verex Plaza, home to Clean Lakes Alliance offices. Program begins at 8:00am and class is dismissed by 9:00am. Feel free to stay for another half hour of informal networking and Q&A
  • Register online

Our June 13th speaker will be Dr. Jake Vander Zanden, professor from UW-Madison’s Center for Limnology who will teach us all about invasive species in the Yahara lakes and the impacts they may be having on the aquatic food web. On July 11th, come hear research scientist Ted Bier teach us how to identify the myriad fish species that inhabit the Yahara lakes and how populations have shifted over the last decade. See our website for the full program schedule.

Admission is free for Friends of Clean Lakes and $10 for the public. If you are not yet a Friend, become one today for a minimum gift of $35. Please register for the event on the Clean Lakes Alliance website.

This spring, as part of our Renew the Blue campaign funded generously by the CUNA Mutual Foundation and Alliant Energy Foundation, Clean Lakes Alliance launched the pilot project for our new Citizen Water Quality Monitoring program. As part of our Renew the Blue community engagement efforts, citizen monitors will be trained to test the Yahara lakes and beaches for water clarity, bacteria and phosphorous.

In partnership with government agencies, University of Wisconsin researchers and water quality advocacy groups, Clean Lakes Alliance drafted a plan to train volunteers and coordinate frequent monitoring of near shore water clarity, water temperature and conditions, and sampling for E. coli and phosphorus concentrations. These data will supplement the sampling conducted by the state and other entities with the goal of creating a richer data set to be used in research on blue-green algal blooms and more accurate beach monitoring.

Clean Lakes Alliance designed the monitoring program under the leadership of Friends of Clean Lakes Board member Jon Standridge, a retired water research scientist at the University of Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene. Standridge conducts the training of Clean Lakes Alliance staff and all volunteer citizen monitors. For the pilot project, Clean Lakes Alliance staff has adopted the beach at James Madison Park and will sample Monday through Friday. Two volunteers from each of the Yahara lakes will be testing the waters from their docks or neighborhood parks.

This pilot project will allow us the chance to gauge the effectiveness of working with volunteers for water quality monitoring and to work out the kinks in the coordination of multiple sampling sites and data submission from a variety of sources before we launch the full-scale program next spring. Our belief is that citizen monitoring can be a powerful tool to raise awareness and increase citizen engagement with the lakes. This is an opportunity to do that in a way that will meaningfully contribute to research and action to clean up our lakes.

We plan to launch the full-scale Citizen Monitoring program in May of 2014. Stay tuned!

This year, Clean Lakes Alliance is continuing our partnership with Dane County’s “Take a Stake in the Lakes” volunteer events. These volunteer efforts have expanded over the last couple of years from two day events to year-round events, and Clean Lakes Alliance is happy to report that our sponsors Lands’ End and Thermo Fisher are both returning for another year out in the field. This month, both corporations will show up with over 100 employees to work in the Dane County Lake Farm Park, at the Lakeshore Nature Preserve, and at Holy Wisdom Monastery clearing invasive plants, planting natives, and cleaning up trash. These lake clean-up efforts demonstrate the commitment of these Yahara Watershed-based organizations to improving the community and environment of which they are a part, and here at Clean Lakes Alliance we are thrilled to be a partner in coordinating these events that make a positive impact on our watershed and create meaningful opportunities for local businesses to engage with the lakes.

Thank you Lands’ End and Thermo Fisher for another year of commitment to improving our lakes!

On May 29th, through the dedication of our region’s farmers, County Executive Joe Parisi, and many others from the county and the private sector, Dane County broke ground on its second manure digester. The digester, which will take in millions of gallons of raw manure, strip out the phosphorus, and produce energy; is located on the Ziegler Dairy farm west of Middleton and will receive manure from area farms including Ziegler’s, Blue Star Dairy and the Hensen Brothers Farm.

The Yahara CLEAN Strategic Action Plan, published by Clean Lakes Alliance and our community partners last November targets a 32,800 lbs per year reduction in phosphorus through agricultural practices. This single digester will reduce 1,540 lbs of phosphorus, which is 4.7% of the total targeted reductions through agricultural practices each year.

“We are extremely excited to get the second community manure digester underway,” said Don Heilman, co-founder of Clean Lakes Alliance and Yahara Pride Farms. “As both urban population and agriculture continue to expand, we must innovate and implement new technologies that will sustain this growth. Providing an effective alternative for manure management while creating green energy is a win-win for our community.”

According to limnologist Dr. Dick Lathrop, one pound of phosphorus equals 500 pounds of wet algae, so we are hopeful that this second digester keeping more phosphorus out of our waterways will result in reductions in algae blooms in the Yahara lakes.


Huge congratulations are due to Friends of Clean Lakes Board Chair Marilee Gorman for her recognition as a Clean Lakes Alliance Volunteer of the Year. Marilee was presented with the award at Clean Lakes Alliance’s donor appreciation party, Summer Starts NOW!, last month.

Marilee has gone above and beyond as a citizen volunteer.  She signed up for the Friends of Clean Lakes Board before we even knew what it would do.  Marilee has been a passionate advocate in her neighborhood and was elected the first President of the Friends Board.

Congratulations, Marilee, and thank you for all you do for the Alliance and the lakes!

Summer Starts NOW! was a great happy hour event held in a former Wisconsin governor’s home on Lake Mendota.  We want to thank our sponsors for making this event possible: Mendota Financial Group, Cresa, and Sprinkman Real Estate.  We also want to thank all of the other citizen volunteers that have done so much to grow this organization and clean up our lakes.

In May, the Clean Lakes Alliance welcomed a new staff member to our Executive Team with the hiring of our new Policy & Program Director, Elizabeth Katt-Reinders (pronounced Cot-Rynders). Elizabeth’s focus will be on the regional policies that affect the Yahara lakes, and on creating meaningful opportunities for citizen engagement, education and action that contribute to the improvement of the lakes. She will also be working closely with Clean Lakes Alliance’s Economic Impact & Policy Committee as well as our new Citizen Action Committee.

Elizabeth has worked extensively on environmental and water resource issues for well over a decade in both the public and private sector with experience in research, communications and outreach, advocacy, program development, and policy; coming to Clean Lakes Alliance most recently from the UW-Madison Center for Limnology where she worked as a Research Specialist and writer on the Water Sustainability and Climate Project, which focused on the science and policy of the Yahara watershed. She has a Masters of Science from the University of Wisconsin Madison Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, and she was a lead author and managing editor of Wisconsin’s Changing Climate, the first report of the Wisconsin Initiative on Climate Change Impacts.

Elizabeth grew up sailing on Lake Michigan in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, and after a few years living and traveling in other parts of the country, she and her husband made Madison their home in 2003. Elizabeth is an avid canoeist and kayaker, and spends most of her free time camping and playing outside with her husband, three young sons, and two dogs.  Her other interests include creative writing, trail running, and piano playing.

Welcome aboard, Elizabeth!


Here at Clean Lakes Alliance, we’re starting summer off with a bang. We have many fun and exciting events planned for this summer, and we hope to see you at many of them.

We invite you to swing by James Madison Park for Make Music Madison on Friday, June 21, where Clean Lakes Alliance will be sponsoring the park and hosting music, providing slushies, and offering prizes to our guests. Go for a swim in Lake Mendota, dance on the lawn, or relax in the shade with the lake as your backdrop.

Looking ahead into July, mark your calendars for our first annual Loop the Lake bike ride, where you can ride with your friends and neighbors from our community around the lake, stopping at stations to learn about the watershed. Finish up at the spectacular Clean Lakes Festival for a full day of activities and entertainment.

Summer starts now! See you on the lakes.

The Clean Lakes Alliance Team

Yahara Lakes 101 – June 13, 8-9:30am, Verex lake patio

Make Music Madison – June 21, 9am-9pm, James Madison Park

Yahara Lakes 101 – July 11, 8-9:30am, Verex lake patio

Paddle & Portage Canoe Race – July 20, James Madison Park, Across Isthmus, Olin Park

Loop the Lake – July 27, Around Lake Monona

Clean Lakes Festival – July 27, Law Park

AquaPalooza – July 28, Picnic Point Bay, Lake Mendota

Madison Area Antique & Classic Boat Show – Aug 2, Multi-lake boat parade; Aug 3, Christy’s Landing

Yahara Lakes 101 – Aug 8, 8-9:30am, Verex lake patio

Yahara Lakes 101 – Sept 12, 8-9:30am, Verex lake patio

Fore! Lakes – Sept 20, Blackhawk Country Club

Yahara Lakes 101 – Oct 10, 8-9:30am, Verex lake patio

Don Heilman, President, don@cleanlakesalliance.com

James Tye, Vice President, james@cleanlakesalliance.com

Elizabeth Katt-Reinders, Policy & Program Director, elizabeth@cleanlakesalliance.com

Ted Barthell, Media & Marketing Manager, ted@cleanlakesalliance.com

Rachel Fossum, Program & Outreach Coordinator, rachel@cleanlakesalliance.com

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