Waves in the Watershed – Volume I, Issue 4


Thompson Investment Management volunteers collect native plant seeds at the UW-Madison Lakeshore Nature Preserve as part of Clean Lakes Alliance’s Renew the Blue Volunteer Days. This summer, companies including Spectrum Brands, Lands’ End, American Family Insurance, Filament Games, CUNA Mutual Group, and Thermo Fisher Scientific helped to protect our waterways by improving our lakeshores.

Thank you for your investment in clean lakes through your support of the Clean Lakes Alliance (CLA). We appreciate the time you take as a donor to read Waves in the Watershed to stay up-to-date on our latest efforts to protect and improve water quality in the Yahara watershed.

Fall is a season for shifting gears. We are wrapping up summer initiatives and programs, and beginning to plan ahead for 2015. We invite you to attend our 2014 Ag Innovation Days (October 21st and 23rd), and our upcoming Renew the Blue volunteer day (November 1st). Read below for more information about these and other initiatives, as well as important updates on progress and projects in our watershed.

We appreciate your support of our organization and our mission.

In Partnership,

The CLA Team


Table of Contents

CLA to speak at North American Lake Management Society
Strategic Implementation Committee update
Rural Initiatives update
2014 Ag Innovation Days
Conservation Practice Cost-Share Program
Blue Star Dairy Farm Tour Recap
Yahara Pride Farm-Certification Program
Friends of Clean Lakes update
Watershed Engagement update
Citizen Lake Monitoring & Mobile-ready Website
Renew the Blue Volunteer Days
Lake-Friendly Yard Care and Leaf Management
Economic Impact & Policy Committee update
Nominating Committee Update
Thank you

CLA to speak at North American Lake Management Society

1509The North American Lake Management Society (NALMS) is an international organization working to forge partnerships among citizens, scientists, and professionals to foster the management and protection of lakes and reservoirs. CLA staff was selected to present at the 2014 NALMS international symposium this November on three topics that showcase the collaborative and innovative work being done in our community:

    • James Tye will present on Citizen Science and Monitoring: “Using citizen monitoring and crowd-sourced data in near-shore water quality tracking and algal bloom research.”
    • Don Heilman will present on Innovative Watershed Strategies for Nutrient Control: “Reducing watershed-wide phosphorus loading through a farmer-led model.”
    • Elizabeth Katt-Reinders will present on Lake Management Case Studies: “Public-private partnerships offer model of watershed-scale lake management.”



Strategic Implementation Committee update

In August, the CLA Strategic Implementation Committee (SIC) hosted two presentations on the Upper and Lower Dorn Creek Wetlands by Dr. Ken Potter and Dr. Eric Booth from the University of Wisconsin. The focus on this wetland area stems from a study conducted by Potter’s Water Resource Management Practicum and its location in the heart of the Yahara WINs Adaptive Management pilot area north of Lake Mendota.

Initial findings for Upper Dorn Creek Wetland suggest that a scrape or dredge of phosphorus-laden sediment that has accumulated over the past 100 years of runoff would restore the viability of the marsh and its ability to retain and refresh rainwater on its way to the lakes. This project has the potential to prevent an estimated 1000 to 3000 pounds of phosphorus loading to Lake Mendota. Additional discussions will take place in September and a SIC project leader will be assigned.

The Lower Dorn Creek has seen significant changes in the last couple of decades as floods have detoured the creek off track and into a ditch line that runs straight along a farm field edge before reentering the creek bed several thousand feet to the east. This has caused the waterway to lose its meandering way and nutrient-sequestering effect. In addition, a delta of phosphorus-laden sediment has accumulated at the reentry point and is poised to wash into the lake under the stress of a significant rain event. SIC member Greg Searle of Wisconsin DNR has taken the lead on this project.

The SIC has also discussed the need for mapping the potential “at risk” areas of concern for phosphorus runoff. Aaron Ruesch and Theresa Nelson of Wisconsin DNR have developed a GIS mapping program called EVAAL, which utilizes LiDAR (“light radar”) detection supplied by Dane County to show potential erosion areas. The findings for Six Mile Creek Watershed will be presented at the September committee meeting.


Rural Initiatives update

CLA has been busy supporting conservation practices on our local farm fields through our work with Yahara Pride Farms. Yahara Pride Farms is the agricultural affiliate organization of the Clean Lakes Alliance, led by area farmers and supported by CLA staff. Conservation practices promote healthy soil and healthy crops, and, by reducing phosphorus runoff, help to promote healthy lakes. See below for updates and ways to get involved.

Second Annual Ag Innovation Days

Whether you are a local producer, farm implement dealer, or are simply ag-curious, we encourage you to sign up to attend our 2014 Ag Innovation Days! Events will run from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on local farm fields, and will address the soil, water quality, and economic benefits of utilizing conservation practices.

The Tuesday, October 21st event (rain date Oct. 22nd) will feature vertical manure injection demonstrations, cover crop test strips, a cover crop dig to look at root growth of the various cover crop seed type/seed type combinations, educational videos about composting, and exhibits from field experts. You’ll want to see the live action manure spill response demonstration! The Thursday, October 23rd (rain date Oct. 24th) event will focus on conservation tillage, with strip till runs, vertical manure injection demonstrations, and educational composting videos. Exhibits and demonstrations will help illustrate the connection between conservation practices on farms and water quality improvements in our lakes.

Visit www.yaharapridefarms.org for directions, schedules, and more information.

Thank you to our 2014 Ag Innovation Days supporters. We appreciate the time and in-kind contributions of our exhibitors, Carl F. Statz and Sons Inc., Crop IMS, Dane County Land Conservation Division, Dane County University of Wisconsin-Extension, Diamond t Ag LLC, GYPSOIL, Kalscheur Implement Co. Inc., Partners in Production, VTI (Vertical Till Injector) LLC, Wipp Brothers Ag Services, and Ziegler Ag Equipment. Ag Innovation Days is also made possible by our generous sponsors, Badgerland Financial, and MSA Professional Services, Inc.; and through the grants received from Organic Valley, Professional Dairy Producers Foundation, the McKnight Foundation, and the Village of Deforest.

Conservation practice cost-share program

In August, Yahara Pride Farms (YPF) sent a mailing summarizing our 2014 cost-share offerings to determine local farmers’ interest in implementing fall conservation practices. So far, we have registered interest for 24 farms, 5,708 acres of cover crops, 1,050 acres of tillage, and 140 acres of vertical manure injection. Most of these acres of conservation practices will be covered under YPF cost-share, and many farmers will also implement conservation practices above and beyond the acreage we cover, all of which will benefit water quality in our lakes. We appreciate the growing interest in our cost-share program and the innovation and expertise of our local agricultural professionals.

Blue Star Dairy Farm Tour update

A diverse group of community members attended the Blue Star Dairy farm tour on Tuesday, August 26th, including county employees, community officials, Yahara Pride Farms and CLA sponsors and donors, and other interested stakeholders. Attendees learned how Blue Star Dairy’s operations benefit soil and water quality through the use of field conservation practices, manure management methods, and nutrient management plans. YPF intern Ben Stacer wrote a recap of the farm tour from a non-farmer perspective; read it here. Our next farms tours will be scheduled for summer 2015.

Yahara Pride Farm-Certification Program


Our Conservation Resource Managers continue to meet with farmers to go through the Yahara Pride Farms certification process, promote our cost-share program, and recruit new members and gauge interest in becoming Yahara Pride Certified. The certification process measures field, land and stream conservation; crop and soil fertility; and assesses facilities to evaluate environmental risks and beneficial practices. Farms must achieve at least 80% of the available points to become certified. We have 11 certified member operations with 7 more in progress. The program is designed to recognize good conservation practices already in place, and to identify areas where additional, alternative, or improved practices will benefit soil quality, crop yield, and ultimately reduce phosphorus inputs to our waterways. Visit the Yahara Pride Farms website for more information about our farm certification program.



Friends of Clean Lakes update

Friends of Clean Lakes is progressing steadily towards our 2014 goal of $100,000 in individual donations. See below for a summary of individual friendships to date. As of the end of August, we have raised $77,108.92, or 77% of our goal. Thank you to our generous donors for your investment in clean lakes!



Citizen Action Committee update

This summer season was full of citizen action to benefit our watershed. We are lucky to have such a dedicated and engaged local citizenry that invests hundreds of volunteer hours in our lakes.

Citizen Lake Monitoring & Mobile-ready Beach Website


Thanks to our many dedicated volunteers, our 2014 citizen water-monitoring season was a great success! During the 2014 season, 44 CLA volunteers completed:

  • over 150 total phosphorus samples
  • 67 E. coli samples
  • over 900 water quality data collections.

Monitors used a new mobile-ready website interface to report and share their water quality information. Tools like these help us achieve the goal of our citizen monitoring program: to better track changing beach and near-shore lake conditions while providing timely water quality and algal-bloom information to the public. We are excited to see our vision for the program becoming a reality!

Join us for Yahara Lakes 101 on Thursday, November 13th to hear results of the 2014 season from CLA watershed engagement staff members Paul Dearlove and Katie Van Gheem.

Renew the Blue Volunteer Days


CLA has partnered with 8 businesses and 7 site hosts to date for our Renew the Blue Volunteer Days, for a total of 267 participating individuals and 11 cleanup and restoration events throughout the watershed. Volunteer days will continue into the fall, including an event that will be open to the public.

      • Please join us on Saturday, November 1st, from 9 a.m. – 12 p.mfor a Volunteer Day at UW-Madison Arboretum, held at Wingra Oak Savanna. Volunteers will assist with seed collection and invasive woody shrub removal.

Lake-Friendly Yard Care & Leaf Management

Clean Lakes Alliance - storm drain stamp

CLA is currently reaching out to municipalities throughout the Yahara watershed to partner on the administration of a citizen actions survey. The main purpose of the survey is to document current stormwater and leaf-management practices among residents to establish a baseline against which we can measure the success of future education programs. The survey will also assess factors that are driving current yard-care decisions. In 2015, CLA will begin a program to advise and educate residents on best lake-friendly practices for lawn care.



Economic Impact & Policy Committee update


View of Madison captured at Pheasant Branch Creek Conservancy of Middleton on Fredrick’s Hill. Photo by Peter Patau.

The purpose of CLA’s Economic Impact and Policy Committee (EIPC) is to assess the economic value of our area lakes to the community, and to identify and provide guidance on policy issues related to cleaning up the lakes.

The lake user survey, which is part of a larger effort by CLA and partners to assess the economic value of the Yahara lakes to our community, wrapped up on Labor Day. Nearly 30 trained volunteers and five part-time interns completed several hundred hours of surveying and 1,500 face-to-face interviews. Each of the 52 sites – boat landings, beaches, boating clubs, lakeside parks, and private access points across all five Yahara lakes– received multiple visits at various times of the day. All survey data have been compiled and are currently being analyzed, with a final report to be prepared later this fall.

In August, Dane County Board of Supervisors chair, Sharon Corrigan, attended the EIPC meeting to speak about the county budget process, explain water-related provisions in last year’s budget, and help us understand the role of relevant County committees and commissions and how their processes impact the water provisions in the budget.

In September, Nick Zavos, Governmental Relations Officer for the City of Madison, attended the EIPC meeting to discuss the City of Madison’s proposal to change the governance structure of the Madison Metropolitan Sewerage District (MMSD) through state legislation. Committee questions focused on how proposed changes might impact CLA’s clean lakes efforts. In October and November, we will host Dane County Executive Office’s Melissa Malott, and MMSD’s Director, Michael Mucha. After hearing from these three community partners, the EIPC will summarize information and offer a recommendation to the Community Board at a future meeting on whether and how the CLA should weigh in on the policy issue, based on relevance to and impact on our mission and goals.

In September, EIPC also discussed CLA’s partnership with Friends of Pheasant Branch Conservancy in efforts to pass a referendum in Middleton this fall that will create a stormwater utility. A stormwater utility will create this dedicated funding source to maintain the facilities in which the city has already invested. These storm sewers, stormwater detention ponds, infiltration basins and other pollution treatment practices require money and regular maintenance in order to be effective. A stormwater utility will provide reliable funds that will reduce phosphorus and sediment loading to our waterways, and thereby protecting and improving water quality in the Pheasant Branch Creek and Lake Mendota watersheds.

To learn more about the need for a stormwater utility or to donate to help fund efforts to pass the referendum, please visit: http://www.cleanlakesalliance.com/middleton/.



Executive board nomination & appointment process

The Nominating Committee is charged with soliciting and vetting candidates for the CLA Community Board and Executive Board of Directors, and has been working to develop processes for nomination and appointment. A thorough nominating process will ensure that we have broad community representation and a breadth of strengths on our boards. The committee has created an Executive Board nomination & appointment process, which was distributed and reviewed at the September 16th Community Board session. Vacancies on the Executive Board were announced, and community board members were invited to submit names for potential nominees for the vacant seats. Annually, Executive Board appointments will occur on a January schedule and Community Board appointments will occur on a May schedule. The committee will address the Community Board nomination & appointment process next.



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!


Waves in the Watershed :: Volume I, Issue 4

The Clean Lakes Alliance (CLA) is a 501(c)(3), not-for-profit organization dedicated to the improvement and protection of the lakes, streams and wetlands in the Yahara Watershed. Through community support, advocacy and education, CLA is working to restore and protect the lakes for future generations. 

Waves in the Watershed, our e-newsletter for donors, 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. Our monthly Lake-O-Gram e-newsletter is sent to all 9,000+ 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 of lake efforts in the watershed. 

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