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

County Board to consider Healthy Farms, Health Lakes Initiative

May 31, 2017
County Board Chair, Sharon Corrigan 608.333.2285
County Board

Task force would engage community in solutions to issues affecting our lakes


In a move to protect the Yahara Lakes, the Dane County Board of Supervisors is poised Thursday to create the “Healthy Farms, Healthy Lakes” Task Force. 


Comprised of appointees from government and non-government agencies, the group will hold regular public meetings and create a report on how to meet phosphorus reduction goals and improve rural farmland practices.


A resolution establishing the Healthy Farms, Healthy Lakes task force is before the full board at its regular meeting Thursday at 7 p.m. in the City-County Building.


“We’ve made great progress over the past decade but it’s going to take a continued commitment from government, agriculture and lake protection groups all working together to further reduce phosphorus runoff,” said Dane County Board Chair Sharon Corrigan.


While urban problems like construction site erosion, lawn fertilizer and tree leaves contribute to the problem, Corrigan notes that the major source of contamination still comes from animal waste in agricultural areas.


“Despite our best efforts, water quality in lakes Mendota, Monona, Wingra, Waubesa and Kegonsa remains seriously impaired by nutrient-rich runoff which contributes to excessive weed growth and toxic algae blooms each summer,” she said.


The main goal of the Healthy Farms, Healthy Lakes task force is to create a greater community understanding of the best practices and policies for managing farmland and to make recommendations to the County Board regarding County policy. It would begin work in late 2017 and dissolve upon completion of its goals in late 2018.


The group will look to earlier work from the Yahara CLEAN Strategic Action Plan for Phosphorus Reduction, which outlines Total Maximum Daily Loads for phosphorus in the Yahara Watershed; and the Yahara Watershed Improvement Network (WINS), led by the Madison Metropolitan Sewerage District.


The task force will use these plans to ensure future actions, policies and funding set by Dane County government will address farmland runoff challenges. 


Additional topics will address manure quantity as it relates to crop needs as well as innovative approaches to manure management. The goal is to develop a “Green Tier” certification model for farms in Dane County.


With help from groups like the Clean Lakes Alliance and Yahara Pride Farms, the task force will also make recommendations on how to develop a cost-sharing proposal for capital investments directed at phosphorus reduction in the watershed.       


Also Thursday the board will consider:


  • A contract with Joe Daniels Construction Co. for $2.4 million to make mitigation upgrades at the Dane County Jail. The project would replace failing locks, windows and doors; upgrade the ventilation system and security cameras; and provide a smoke management system.


  • Acquisition of 40 acres at Walking Iron County Park in the village of Mazomanie. The $268,000 addition to the park would allow creation of new trails connecting to the DNR Lower Wisconsin Riverway.


  • A contract with H &H Industries for $99,900 for needed improvements to the HVAC system for the Primate House at the Henry Vilas Zoo.