Waves in the Watershed – Volume I, Issue 2

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Welcome to Waves in the Watershed, an in-depth newsletter for donors of the Clean Lakes Alliance (CLA). Waves in the Watershed is published every two months and details the progress that CLA is making toward our goal of reducing phosphorus in the Yahara watershed by 50% by 2025 and in engaging the community in our efforts.

Please note – the Lake-O-Gram will continue to be delivered each month to the inboxes of over 8,000 individuals who have expressed an interest in CLA’s initiatives and events. The Lake-O-Gram is a brief digest that promotes upcoming events and volunteer opportunities and includes highlights and snapshots of lake efforts in the watershed.

In Partnership,

The Clean Lakes Alliance Team

Table of Contents

Project Implementation
Yahara Pride Farms
Strategic Implementation Committee update
Grant Awards
Economic Impact & Policy Committee update
Watershed Engagement
Save Our Lakes Community Breakfast
Clean Clear Waters
Yahara Lakes 101
Friends of Clean Lakes
In the Community
City of Madison
Wingra Boats
New Board Members
Thank you!

Project Implementation

Yahara Pride Farms update

Yahara Pride Farms (YPF), an agricultural affiliate of the CLA, has the mission of improving water quality in the Yahara watershed through the implementation of conservation practices on agricultural land.

Currently, YPF and CLA are focusing on the following initiatives:

Cost-share program: Finalizing 2014 cost-share program offerings with the goal of doubling the number of acres on which conservation practices are implemented.

YPF Certification: Four farms have been certified “Yahara Pride” thus far, with seven in progress. The YPF Certification Program, run by two Conservation Resource Managers, has proven to be a successful educational tool. The program is designed to work with area farmers and their agronomic management teams to indicate that a farmer or operation has successfully completed all aspects of the certification program including a facility, crop and soil assessment (which includes reviewing the effectiveness of their nutrient management plan), a complete farm walkover, as well as a follow up one-on-one meeting with a conservation resource manager to discuss areas where conservation practices could be improved or changed on their farm.

The certified Yahara Pride Farms members are required to meet a high standard (based on a point system) that is an evaluation of all components (facilities, fields, etc.) of their farm. The certified members have made a commitment to improve conservation on their operation as suggested by the resource managers and have proven to be dedicated to improving soil and water resources in the watershed.

Established two new programs for business and the community to get involved in our efforts through financial support:

“Partners in Pride” is a program that allows community members, agribusinesses and associations to be a partner in conservation with Yahara Pride Farms.

“Conserve an Acre” allows individuals and businesses from the community to directly impact the quality of our lakes by contributing to a fund for the installation of various conservation practices.  The conservation practices include cover crops and buffer strips, which improve soil stability and reduce nutrient runoff. 

Strategic Implementation Committee update

The CLA’s Strategic Implementation Committee focuses on phosphorus reduction projects and practices, and prioritizes the implementation of the 14 actions in the Yahara CLEAN Strategic Action Plan for Reducing Phosphorus. The committee received two presentations this month and both followed with good discussions. The first was by Montgomery Associates who has recently completed the phosphorus density modeling for the watershed. Of interest was the stronger than expected urban loading of phosphorus to the lakes, and also the high loading from agriculture to the southern two lakes. This has spawned a specific meeting to discuss mitigation for water quality challenges in Lake Kegonsa.

The second presentation was by Aaron Ruesch from WNDR on the use of LiDAR to detect areas of potential erosion concern, especially in agriculture. The technology can be used to steer efforts and expenses to the highest runoff risk areas and also provide a strong point for monitoring future land uses. There is potential to layer soil types, soil test results, and cropping practices to gain an even clearer look at whether land is susceptible to runoff. DNR and Dane County will be pilot testing and verifying results this year and will report the findings at a future date.

Grant awards

McKnight Foundation
In March, the CLA received $50,000 from the McKnight Foundation to assist with our rural initiatives that reduce phosphorus runoff, including improving manure storage and management, increasing the use of conservation practices (e.g. cover crops, vertical manure injection and strip tillage), and a certification program that provides incentives for best management practices. The funding will also be used for water quality monitoring, as well as the education and outreach involved in promoting these agricultural efforts.

Village of DeForest 2014 Stormwater Grant
In April, the CLA was awarded $10,000 from the Village of DeForest 2014 Stormwater Grant program. We’ll be using the funds towards our cover crop test plot that’s helping us better understand how to keep soil in it’s place and phosphorus out of our waterways, an educational field demonstration day for farmers to experiment with innovative technologies and conservation practices, and for a residential leaf management education pilot project to tackle urban sources of phosphorus loading.


Economic Impact & Policy Committee update

The CLA’s Economic Impact & Policy Committee (EIPC) continued development and planning of a lake user survey as phase one of a study of the economic impact of the lakes on the greater-Madison area. The lake user survey will be administered all summer at approximately 50 locations, including beaches, boat landings, parks, and select private access points, on all five lakes in the Yahara chain.

The committee initiated the setting of annual objectives and a policy agenda for 2014. This includes identifying the ongoing policy issues relevant to the CLA’s mission, discussing priorities for the next legislative session, and determining processes and criteria by which CLA will set its policy agenda.  Over the next few months, the EIPC will invite representatives from local government entities and other stakeholder groups to speak at committee meetings to help the committee better understand relevant policy issues.

Watershed Engagement

Save Our Lakes Community Breakfast recap

Over 600 community members joined us bright and early at the Monona Terrace on Friday, April 25th for CLA’s Save Our Lakes community breakfast. We are proud to announce that attendees at the breakfast generously pledged nearly $40,000 for our lakes. The Schooling for Cleaner Lakes fish-mobiles – created by over 80 school and community groups — looked incredible “swimming” overhead.  Please check out photos from the event here.

The event featured interesting and inspiring speakers as well as three new films produced by Studio 88.

Steve Carpenter, Director of the UW-Madison Center for Limnology, spoke on “Trends and Surprises in the Limnology of Madison’s Lakes.” We learned that although rainstorms and manure production have been increasing, runoff has remained relatively steady. Steve attributed the lack of an increase in runoff to strong phosphorus management in the watershed. He ended by calling on the community to continue to work to beat the trends, so that runoff — and the phosphorus that comes with it — will not just hold steady, but will decrease.

Brennan Nardi, Editor-in-Chief of Madison Magazine and member of the CLA Community Board, spoke to the Schooling for Cleaner Lakes theme. Brennan discussed the many partners that are working together for cleaner lakes, and announced the community art project winners. Congratulations Lowell Elementary School, West High School, and Phil Gaebler! Brennan also presented the 2013 Watershed Stewardship Award, which went to Jon Standridge for his leadership in volunteering on the creation and expansion of CLA’s citizen monitoring program.

Three new 2014 CLA partnerships were also announced: an education initiative with Earth Partnership for Schools; a summer lake education program with Boys & Girls Club of Dane County and Wingra Boats; and a crowd-source beach monitoring initiative with the City of Madison, Dane County, and 100state. Madison Mayor Paul Soglin announced the partnership to develop a water quality crowdsourcing app for the public to use at local beaches throughout the Yahara River watershed.

Dane County Executive Joe Parisi presented on “Dane County’s Clean Lakes Effort”, which highlighted the county’s commitment to funding and getting boots on the ground to clean up our lakes. The video features the county’s extensive work as well as projects by other partners in the watershed.

Dave Lumley, CEO of Spectrum Brands, closed out the program with inspiring and motivational remarks on his vision and commitment to cleaner lakes, and a call to the community to make a pledge for our lakes. See our website to become a Friend of Clean Lakes.

The films feature dozens of community partners and showcase the vast array of work being done for our lakes.

Clean Clear Waters

If you visit local piers, docks, or beaches this summer, you may notice people peering into long, clear plastic tubes full of lake water and taking notes. If you do, say hi! These are citizen water quality monitors: volunteers who collect data to help improve our understanding of lake water quality, as part of CLA’s Clean Clear Waters program.

The long, clear tube is a turbidity tube, which allows for measurement of lake visibility depths even in shallow, near-shore water, where most of our daily interactions with the lakes occur. The tube has a black and white disk at the bottom: the deeper the water in the tube that the volunteer can see the disk through, the clearer and cleaner the water is. Volunteers also record other observations, like the number of swimmers in the water and the presence of weeds or algae blooms.

2014 is the second-year of CLA’s water quality monitoring pilot program. Due to the success and popularity of last year, we have expanded the number of sampling locations from 9 to around 40 across lakes Mendota, Monona, Waubesa, Kegonsa, and Wingra. The goals of the program are to provide more accurate and timely beach condition information, as well as to help UW-Madison researchers model the movement of algal blooms.

With all the data that will be collected, the CLA needed a better way to make the information readily available to the public. A new partnership with 100state, the City of Madison, and Dane County will give volunteers the ability to input data into a mobile app so that the information will be instantly available to researchers, government agencies, and the public. There will also be a crowd-sourcing function, so that any lake visitor can make an update about the status of a beach, for example.

If you would like to know more about citizen monitoring in your area, or other volunteer opportunities, please visit our website

Yahara Lakes 101

Thursday, June 12 – Dr. Calvin DeWitt

How do wetlands impact the quality of our lakes? Come to next month’s Yahara Lakes 101 to find out.

The Yahara chain of lakes follows the course of a deep, ancient valley: what does that mean for our lakes? To find out the answer to this question and more, please join us at Yahara Lakes 101 on Thursday, June 12th for Dr. Calvin DeWitt’s presentation, where he will describe the functions served by our local wetland system, how these functions sustain the quality of our chain of lakes, and what is needed to sustain these functions on into the future.

Dr. DeWitt’s presentation is entitled “Sustaining Yahara Lakes and Waterscapes: Functions of Their Wetland Systems above a Buried Bedrock Valley”. He is Professor of Environmental Studies Emeritus, Nelson Institute, University of Wisconsin-Madison where he is a member of the graduate faculties of Environmental and Resources, Conservation Biology and Sustainable Development, Water Resources Management, and Oceanography and Limnology, a Fellow of the University of Wisconsin Teaching Academy, and recipient of the Chancellor’s Award for Distinguished Teaching.

Meet and greet begins at 7:30 a.m. with the presentation at 8 a.m. in the Bluephies cafe at the Verex Plaza, 150 East Gilman Street. Please pre-register on the CLA’s website; admission to one event is $10 for the general public and free to all 2014 CLA donors. Coffee, pastries, and fruit are provided.

We would like to again thank Dr. Doug Soldat, who presented on “Lawn Care, Soils and Water Quality” in April, and Dr. Emily Stanley, who presented on “Yahara Long Term Ecological Research: Trends & Patterns” in May.

Friends of Clean Lakes

The Friends of Clean Lakes continue to go strong in friend-raising and fund-raising for the Clean Lakes Alliance. As of our May Community Board meeting, these individuals have contributed over $50,000 for our clean lakes efforts, with donations ranging from $35 to $5000 per year.

Friends of Clean Lakes plan, host, and support events that draw new people in to the organization, and they’d love to see you at the following events this summer:

Paddle & Portage – Saturday, July 15

The event features a canoe race across Lake Mendota and Lake Monona and a portage across the Capitol Square. FOCL provide volunteers to work in the beverage tent.

Loop the Lake Bike Ride – Saturday, July 26 (Clean Lakes Festival)

Loop the Lake is friend and fund-raising bike ride around beautiful Lake Monona. Individual, family, and team riders are encouraged. We are presently contacting sponsors and encouraging rider registration. Lunch and prizes will be included.

In the Community 

CLA Community Board Member Updates

As an alliance, it’s important to us to turn the spotlight on all of the good work being done in our community to protect and improve the lakes, and on those who are helping us realize our vision of establishing the lakes as the center of our community.

In each issue of Waves in the Watershed, we’ll share snapshots of the good work being done by members of CLA’s Community Board. This issue we’re featuring the City of Madison’s Engineering Department and Wingra Boats, owned by Community Board member, Tyler Leeper.

City of Madison

The City of Madison has several lakes-related projects underway. These include stormwater treatment at Willow Creek, alum treatment at Starkweather Creek, stormwater treatment at Dunn’s Marsh, and improvements in aquatic plant management in Monona Bay.

Willow Creek

The City of Madison, in conjunction with University of Wisconsin Facilities staff, is designing a stormwater treatment structure to be installed in Willow Creek immediately north of University Avenue. The watershed that feeds Willow Creek is almost 1,900 acres of primarily urban residential land use. City and UW staff have noticed a buildup of sandy sediment in Lake Mendota near the discharge of Willow Creek to the Lake; the proposed treatment structure is intended to reduce the amount of sediment discharged to the Lake. Preliminary plans for the treatment structure include the installation of a weir in Willow Creek; the weir will be placed downstream of the creek’s intersection with Campus Drive, and will be designed to regulate flow through the channel to increase sediment settling. The length of channel between the intersection with University and the weir will be lined with concrete (to facilitate removal of settled sediment) and riprap. The project will include restoration along the channel banks, including the replacement of trees, and is scheduled for construction in Summer 2014.

Alum Treatment at Starkweather

The City is in the feasibility stage of design for an alum treatment facility at Starkweather Creek. The Starkweather project is a natural follow-up to the pilot alum treatment project at Marion Dunn pond, which is scheduled for start-up in early June 2014. In the current concept, an alum water treatment system would be installed on the bank of the quarry pond located northeast of Milwaukee Street and North Fair Oaks Avenue, which sits adjacent to Starkweather Creek approximately one mile upstream of the creek’s discharge into Lake Monona. Stormwater flow in the creek would be diverted into the pond and treated with alum or a comparable flocculant to remove suspended solids and phosphorus, then reintroduced into the creek downstream of the diversion. The project is tentatively scheduled to begin construction in Fall 2015.

Dunn’s Marsh
The City is collaborating with a group of UW students in the Biological Systems Engineering department to design a stormwater treatment device north of Dunn’s Marsh. The watershed that drains to the marsh includes urban residential and commercial land near the intersection of the Beltline and Verona Road. The project is uniquely challenging due to the small area available for construction of a device to treat a large volume of stormwater. Currently the City favors installation of a Coanda screen due to its compact size, effectiveness at removing debris and sediment while allowing large flows to pass, and its ease of maintenance. A similar screen is installed at the UW Arboretum and treats the 100 year event without bypass (several hundred CFS) . The device, which has the cooperation of the City of Fitchburg, is scheduled for installation in Fall 2014 or Spring 2015.

Monona Bay Boat Launch
To maintain the health and beauty of Monona Bay, Dane County deploys weed cutters during the summer months to manage plant growth. In the past, these cutters have entered the water at the beach, which is difficult for the workers and damaging to the environment. The City is installing a dedicated boat launch in the Bay for the weed cutters at the corner of West Brittingham Place and South Brittingham Place. In addition to the launch itself, reinforcement will be installed in the grass access to prevent damage to Brittingham Park due to trailering the cutters to and from the Bay. The launch, which will begin construction on May 19, 2014, will be for City/County and Emergency use only; as such, motorized boat traffic on the Bay should not increase.

Wingra Boats

At Wingra and Brittingham Boats, the philosophy is to focus on the experience of being outside on the lakes with good people, rather than on being a skills-based program. If you return to shore in a canoe sitting the wrong way and holding the blade while paddling with the handle, but have a smile on your face- they believe that you’re still doing it right. This philosophy has taken Wingra boats from about 10,000 water trips and 8 employees in 2005 to 50+ employees and over 45,000 trips on the water in 2013.

2014 programs include:

  • Camp Wingra was started in 2007 with two sessions and 20 kids. This year we have 22 sessions and 250+ kids from first grade through 9th grade and we have programs ranging from intro to fishing and paddling to limnology camps, fly fishing and WI River overnight canoe trips. Camps fill by February and we have twice the demand as previously. We are looking to double our programs in the next two years.
  • Wingra Watershed Work Shop was started in 2010 to educate teachers on how lead watershed focused field trips. Since the start of the Work Shop, Wingra Boats saw an increase from 300 students coming from Memorial High School to over 1500 students coming from all over the city and outside of the city.
  • Developed out of the Wingra Watershed Workshop, Science Thursday was developed to expand education of the watershed to the public. Science Thursday focuses on elementary-aged kids and in the last two years has grown to have 30 to 50 participants per week, with some weeks accommodating over 70 participants. The kids get to learn about a variety of topics including bats, invertebrates and much more.
  • Wingra Boats, Clean Lake Alliance and Boys and Girls Club of Dane County have teamed up to offer a pilot program to the kids in the Boys & Girls Club summer program to build awareness, understanding and appreciation of the outdoors and specifically our lakes. The program involves fishing, paddling and limnology and ecology exploration to teach about the ecosystem. Example curriculum would be looking at the life cycle of a fish-using dip nets to find out what they eat, using magnifying glasses and microscopes to see what they live in, and then looking at what eats them.

We will have two sessions of 12 students ages 7-12 every Wednesday from June 25th – August 6th and through this program we will have the opportunity to expose every kid enrolled in the B&GC summer program to the wonders and enjoyment of the outdoors. It is our hope that this pilot will grow into an expanded program that offers in depth and weeklong programing.

  • Community Events. We have established a series of fun community building events including Lake Wingra Clean Up, Movie Nights, Potlucks, Ice Cream Boat-Float, and we host neighborhood meetings and parties. Many of our activities lose money yet help establish the Boat House and the lake as a regular destination and a place to come together.
  • Special Events. We have a series of Special Events that are designed around a certain activity or group. Special Events include Paddle Excursions, Jazz in the Park, Brat Fest, The Duck Dash (a paddle run), the Midwest Paddle Board Festival and the Brittingham Fishing Festival.

Brittingham Boats: In 2013 Brittingham Boats opened on Monona Bay to expand services to the downtown community. The bay provides protected and calm water for novice paddlers and by going under the railroad bridges, paddlers can access Lake Monona and the rest of the Yahara Chain. The old Beach House used to be the most popular beach in Madison with over 200 rentable bathing suits. The park and beach went into a state of decline and the building had not been used in over 20 years.

Since opening, Brittingham Boats has invested $58,532 in the building and grounds to bring the decapitated building to code and make it functional.  This investment has made a major impact on the neighborhood. The police saw a 63% decrease in calls and we were very excited to have it become an unofficial neighborhood meeting house. We have established a food for trash program for the homeless that live in the area and all over the park and the lake is once again filled with life.

New Board Members

The CLA would like to welcome new members to the Community Board.

Stephen Ales, the new Water Leader at the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR), is now filling the seat formerly held by Lloyd Eagan, following her retirement from the position. Welcome Steve, and thank you, Lloyd, for your contributions to the Board.

Steve oversees the field implementation of Water Division programs including Drinking Water and Groundwater, Wastewater, Water Regulation and Zoning, Water Quality, Runoff, and Fish.

Steve has a BS in Geology from the University of Iowa and an MS in Water Resources Management from the UW-Madison. He has been with the DNR for over 27 years working in the Solid Waste, Remediation & Redevelopment, and the Drinking Water and Groundwater Programs.

Supervisor Sharon Corrigan of Middleton was elected in April 2014 as the new Chair of the Dane County Board of Supervisors, and now sits on the CLA Community Board. We would like to thank former chair John Hendrick for his contributions to the Board and welcome Sharon to the role!

In addition to being the board chair and District 26 Supervisor, Sharon is also a member of the Criminal Justice Council, a member of the Lakes & Watershed Commission, and former chair of the Commission’s Executive Committee.

Sharon has a MA in International Studies from the University of Denver and a BA in Law & Government from the University of St Frances.

Rebecca Power is the new Chair of the Lakes & Watershed Commission, and as such now fills the position on the CLA Community Board that was held by former chairs Melissa Malott, and Lyle Updike in the interim. We are grateful that Melissa and Lyle remain on the CLA Community Board as Dane County Executive Designee and Dane County Towns Association Designee, respectively.

Rebecca is the co-director of the UW-Extension’s Great Lakes Regional Water program, and is the owner and art photographer of Rebecca Power Images. She previously worked for the UW-Extension as a watershed educator and water resources specialist. Rebecca has worked in the fields of environmental science and outreach for over 17 years, including time at the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

Rebecca has a degree in Wildlife Management from the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point. Welcome to the Community Board, Rebecca!

Thank you

Thank you for being a donor to the Clean Lakes Alliance. We value your contribution – big or small. Please know that thanks to your support we are able to protect and improve our lakes through phosphorus reduction projects and practices, engage the community through volunteer and educational opportunities, and advocate for common-sense policies that are good for our lakes. Thank you for your support – we hope to see you on the lakes!

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