Seal of Dane County County of Dane
County Executive's Office

Unprecedented Partnerships & Resources Focused on Cleaning our Lakes in 2015

September 29, 2014
Melanie Conklin, Office of the County Executive, (608) 267-8823 or cell (608) 635-5796
County Executive

Parisi’s upcoming 2015 budget will put more than $10 million into targeted

measures and collaborations to clean up lake-polluting phosphorus


MADISON - Dane County Executive Joe Parisi announced today that his 2015 county budget coming out on Oct. 1 will take the next steps in the county’s leading role to clean up the Yahara chain of lakes.


Dane County’s innovation and partnerships continue to develop solutions that can serve as a national example in a time the national news is focused on toxic algae blooms caused by phosphorus and its devastating impacts on our water. The 2015 budget adds and augments efforts, directly targeting more than $10 million in resources toward key strategies that  have been shown to have maximum impact:


  • Adding an additional $500,000 to help farmers store manure which will keep it off the land during most critical times of the year with Community Manure storage grants.
  • New technology to accomplish 100% elimination of phosphorus from manure.
  • New soil conservationists to collaborate with farmers to reduce high-priority phosphorus pollution from agricultural runoff. This is a new partnership with the Madison Metropolitan Sewerage District.
  • Putting $750,000 into the Yahara Clean Fund for grants to establish new conservation practices with our agricultural partners on farms.
  • $1 million in new Urban Water Quality Grants to share the cost of technology to address pollution from outflows (manmade and natural) into the lakes.
  •  A new $60,000 pilot project evaluating the effectiveness of removing phosphorus-laden sediments in the  highest concentration areas.
  • Sand County Foundation will contribute $60,000 in resources to compile and prioritize information critical to  aid future efforts to effectively clean up the lakes.


“Across this community, the list is growing of the partners stepping up to work with the County to clean up our lakes,” Parisi said.  “Whether its agricultural, business, environmental or public sector interests, we have a ‘can do’ coalition committed to reducing phosphorus and protecting and restoring our waters.”




New Community Manure Storage Grants for Farmers

As part of a more than $10-million dollar capital budget for the county’s Department of Land and Water Resources, the County Executive’s 2015 budget includes $500,000 to help farmers store manure which will  keep it off the land during most critical times of the year. 


This builds upon a pilot Parisi announced earlier this summer in which the county made funding available to partner with farmers on strategies to reduce manure spreading and enhance storage -- especially during late winter months of the year when runoff causes most issues.


Today Parisi announced that as result of the first initiative, the county has already secured two contracts with farmers, providing $337,000 to help build manure storage structures.  As a condition of the county’s willingness to cost share on manure storage, these farmers agree not to spread manure in the winter months.  Parisi’s budget will help the county secure similar partnerships with additional farmers in the coming year.


“Our farmers not only want to be careful stewards of the lands, they are innovators and collaborators helping solve the challenges our lakes face,” Parisi said.  “By working with them, we keep our multi-generation family farms thriving and we are getting more done together.”


Phosphorus elimination from manure

The willingness of farmers to be pioneers led to the development of digesters, such as the one outside of Middleton where a ribbon cutting will be held at the end of this week.  The Executive’s budget includes $500,000 for new technology at that facility that will remove nearly 100% of the phosphorus from the estimated 100,000 gallons of manure processed by that digester daily.  In coming weeks the county will solicit proposals from companies that design and install these “nutrient concentration” systems to begin construction in 2015 at the new digester owned by another county partner, Gundersen Lutheran Health Systems.


“Digesters do great work at converting manure into money through electrical generation and thanks to $6.6 million the county secured from the state, the digesters we’ve helped bring to reality take out phosphorus,” Parisi noted.  “Using this new technology will not only nearly eliminate phosphorus from what goes into the digester, but it also offers great promise in our long-term campaign against what troubles our waters.”


Sediment removal

Parisi also announced Monday his 2015 budget will fund a new $60,000 pilot project evaluating the effectiveness of removing phosphorus-laden sediments in the highest concentration areas in the Mendota watershed.  High phosphorus concentration sediment has accrued in these waterways over the decades.  The budget pays for removal of this sediment  in a portion Dorn Creek, south of Waunakee.Clean Lakes Alliance is also committing $25,000 to the Dorn Creek watershed phosphorus-reduction efforts.


New partnership – new resources

Parisi announced that under a new partnership with the Madison Metropolitan Sewerage District (MMSD), his budget will boost on-the-ground efforts to reduce high-priority phosphorus pollution. It includes two new soil conservationists in 2015, boosting staffing resources vital to working with  the agricultural community who are key partners in the important work underway.  The additional staff will be funded by MMSD to assist in the District’s ongoing effort known as “adaptive management” to meet its federal phosphorus reduction regulations.


“We are committed to finding innovative, cost-effective ways to meet Clean Water Act requirements while also being a partner in a united effort focused on cleaning up our lakes,” said Michael Mucha, executive director of MMSD. “We all benefit by working together.”


Parisi noted that MMSD was contributing the full $150,000 cost of these new soil conservationists. These are new dollars on top of an existing $150,000 annual lakes partnership between Dane County and Yahara WINS.


As part of another partnership secured with the Sand County Foundation, the Executive’s budget includes $60,000 in additional staffing resources to compile and prioritize information critical to effectively clean up the lakes.

"Sand County Foundation promotes a land ethic in Wisconsin and across the country. We're proud to work with Dane County and many other partners to move forward with a project of national significance and profound local impact." said Joseph Britt, Sand County Foundation program director.  "This Watershed Adaptive Management approach will benefit Madison's lakes and be a model of collaboration for clean water.”

Yahara Clean Fund
This budget contains $750,000 for pioneering conservation practices on farms with low-interest loans and grants to farmers. This fund was the genesis for piloting the new manure storage program, which is now bearing fruit and has become its own program. Some examples of the work that farmers are doing with Dane County to control runoff include terracing land and building up stream bank beds.


Urban Storm Water Quality Grants

The Executive’s budget introduced Wednesday will also include $1 million for a program that partners with local municipalities to replace old storm sewers that flow directly into area lakes. Capturing the sediment that comes out of these pipes also reduces phosphorus and other pollutants.  The county has prioritized dollars from this program in recent years on the storm water outflows that have the greatest contribution to lake pollution.  The county has already selected three of these projects for completion in 2015 -- outflows located in the cities of Middleton and Monona and the Village of DeForest.


“There’s no single fix to remedying our waters, but as I have done in each one of my budgets as county executive, I am increasing county government’s commitment to confronting this challenge,” Parisi said.  “Together, with our partners, we are turning the tide and taking continuous action to clean up our spectacular lakes.”