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

Dane County Land & Water Resources Begins to Transition Yahara Lakes for the Upcoming Winter Season

September 26, 2016
John Reimer, Stormwater Engineer (608) 224-3612 Erika Hotchkiss, Marketing & Outreach Coordinator (608) 212-6358
Land & Water Resources

Dane County Land and Water Resources would like to remind boaters and lake front property owners that the Yahara Lakes will be lowered to summer lake level minimums and transition to winter operating levels starting on November 1. The annual winter lake level draw down is intended to help prevent shoreline ice damage and allow for flood storage capacity after the spring runoff. This year’s seasonal draw down may take an extended period of time to reach summer lake level minimums on all lakes due to the above average rain fall over the last two months. 


There are over 160 buoys that are annually placed in the Yahara River and Lakes to aid boaters with navigation.  The removal of buoys will start October 1 and be complete by November 1. With this in mind, lake users are asked to use caution and be on the alert for underwater hazards that may damage watercraft.


The Tenney Lock, located on the Yahara River between Lakes Mendota and Monona, will be open on weekends between 12:00 noon and 6:00 p.m. through October 30th, the last day of the season.



  • October 1 - November 1  Removal of navigational buoys.
  • November 1 - Transition of lake levels to winter operating range begins.
  • November 1 - Removal of piers at county access sites. (Access piers at Babcock County Park on Lake Waubesa will remain in place and open until winter.)  
  • November 1 - Tenney Lock closed for the season.


Dane County also asks boat owners, lake residents and contractors to check for Zebra Mussels when removing their piers, docks and boats from the water.  Zebra Mussels will attach themselves to submerged portions of boats and piers.  Zebra mussels can clog water intakes and pipes, encrust piers, boats, and motors, and their sharp shells can cut the feet of swimmers.  The high recreational use of the Yahara Chain of Lakes and its close proximity to other popular waterbodies, increases the risk that zebra mussels or other aquatic invasive species are transported by boat to and from Dane County waters.


If zebra mussels or other invasive species are found:

  • Check that the invasive species has not been previously found on the waterbody by visiting

  • Note the exact location where the animal was found.
  • Take a digital photo of the animal in the setting where it was found.  If possible, collect up to five specimens of varying sizes. Place in a jar with water; put on ice or transport to refrigerator.
  • Contact Pete Jopke, Dane County Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) Coordinator at 608-224-3733.
    Responding quickly to detection of AIS is critical to help curb the spread into other waterbodies.


For more information, please see the following links:

To learn more about zebra mussels or Wisconsin aquatic invasive species regulations visit: keyword “invasive species”.

To read more about how Dane County is working to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species visit:

Current lake levels are updated daily and can be found at:

Tenney Lock Schedule:


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