Yahara CLEAN -- STATE AND DANE COUNTY LOOKING TO IMPROVE WATER QUALITY
February 13, 2008
Ken Johnson, DNR Regional Water Leader, Fitchburg: 608-275-3243
Joshua Wescott, Office of the County Executive, Madison: 608-267-8823, 608-669-5606 (cell)
FITCHBURG – Department of Natural Resources Secretary (DNR) Matt Frank and Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk will sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) Wednesday, Feb. 13, aimed towards taking actions that will improve water quality in the Yahara Chain-of-Lakes.
The signing ceremony is set for 10:30 a.m. at DNR’s South Central Region Headquarters Building, located on the ground of the Nevin State Fish Hatchery, 3911 Fish Hatchery Road, Fitchburg.
Under the MOU, Dane County, DNR and the state Department of Agriculture, Trade & Consumer Protection (DATCP), have agreed to a number of activities that will assess the present nutrients and sediment loading to Lakes Mendota, Monona, Waubesa, Wingra and Kegonsa and then take the right steps to improve water quality.
Tabbed the Yahara CLEAN (which stands for Capital Lakes Environmental Assessment and Needs) MOU, the document lays out steps to reach water quality goals developed through community input.
“The state, county and its municipalities, businesses and farmers have already done a great deal to improve lake water quality,” noted DNR Secretary Frank.
“But summer algal blooms and weed mats tell us we need to do more. The public expects us to do more,” he pointed out.
Nutrient-rich and sediment matters washing into the water – called nutrient loading – cause algae blooms and deplete oxygen when they decompose, worsening water quality. Some of these nutrients have historically come from municipal sanitary wastewater, agricultural fertilizer, animal waste runoff, and from urban non-point (not from a discharge pipe) lawn, street and construction site sources.
Over the last 50 years, almost all direct, end of the pipe discharges, called point sources, have been eliminated and the water quality of the Yahara Lakes has responded. Still, the nutrient loads to the system from non-point (runoff) sources are visibly impacting algae and plant growth. The study aims to find out if the lakes will respond to intensive nutrient reduction practices.
“We’re working hard together to clean-up our lakes. These are big next steps,” said Dane County Executive Falk.
DATCP Secretary Rod Nilsestuen praised the agreement and said that “Wisconsin is fortunate to have abundant water resources. Protecting the long-term health of our watersheds is critical to the future of the state. The Wisconsin DATCP is pleased to participate in this focused, collaborative effort to improve and protect the Yahara River Watershed.”
A major public outreach approach will be part of the project. All stakeholder groups are urged to participate in developing a community vision for the Yahara Lakes. What the community wants and is willing to pay for, and what is technically possible, will guide future nutrient reduction measures, according to the MOU, which will remain in effect until Dec. 31, 2009.
“The Yahara CLEAN plan is a Valentine present for the lakes and all who love them,” said Dane County Supervisor Brett Hulsey, chair of the Dane County Lakes and Watershed Commission.
“The CLEAN plan will bring together the county, state, local governments, citizens and conservation groups to continue the progress and increase investments to clean-up and protect our lakes,” he added.
Yahara CLEAN will include the following steps:
· Establish a community vision for the lakes’ water quality.
· Model existing nutrient and sediment loadings.
· Develop achievable goals to reach the community’s vision.
· Determine the actions and costs to meet the goals
· Advise and communicate progress to Dane County residents.
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