Dane County Office of Lakes & Watersheds
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About the Dane County Lakes & Watershed Commission

The Dane County Board established a permanent Lakes and Watershed Commission in 1988. The Wisconsin State Legislature defined the Commission's special powers, composition, duties and organization in 1990. A coordinating and advisory agency within Dane County government, the Commission's charge is to protect and improve water quality, as well as the scenic, economic, recreational, and environmental value of Dane County's water resources. Click here to see Wisconsin state statute 33.41.

The Commission has 10 members, representing urban and rural areas, including:

  • county board supervisors (2 from Madison and 2 from areas outside Madison)
  • a representative of the Towns Association
  • a representative from cities and villages outside Madison
  • a member designated by the Dane County Executive
  • a member designated by the mayor of Madison
  • a citizen from Madison
  • a representative of the Yahara Lakes Association.

To view current Commission members, as well as Commission schedules, agendas, and meeting notes, please visit this page.

To contact all Commission members, send an email to lakes@countyofdane.com.


  • Sue Jones, Watershed Management Coordinator
  • Nik Simonson, Community Engagement Specialist
  • Vacant, Administrative Support

Commissioner Bios

Chuck Erickson (County Board Supervisor representing Madison since 2007)

Chuck currently works at CDW, and has been a District 13 County Board supervisor since 2002. He feels there are many Commission achievements to be proud of, but says the stormwater outfall grant program is one of the best. He particularly likes learning about water and limnology as well as the solutions for stopping stormwater runoff before it reaches our lakes. He sees limited resources as a continuing challenge for the Commission. He’s fond of many water-related places in Dane County, but Black Earth Creek is his favorite.

Mike Gerner (Yahara Lakes Association representative since 2012)

Mike retired from Grant Thornton, LLP as a Managing Partner. He appreciates understanding the perspectives of others on the Commission and other lake and water related groups. He sees future challenges for the Commission to include providing real leadership in taking “action” to reduce phosphorous inputs in Dane County waters. His favorite water-related place is the UW Madison Memorial Union.

Mary Kolar (County Board Supervisor Representing Madison since 2013)

Mary is pleased to serve on the Lakes and Watershed Commission because water is a critical Dane County resource and amenity, and significant work is needed to improve the water quality of our lakes. She values working with fellow commissioners and others so that everyone may continue to enjoy the year-round recreational opportunities lakes, streams and wetlands provide. Mary’s favorite water place in Dane County is Lake Monona. She believes one of the best ways to begin a day is with a walk to Law Park to experience the sunrise over Lake Monona.

Patrick Miles (County Board Supervisor outside of Madison since 2006)

Patrick is especially proud of the Commission’s engagement in Dane County communities to solve lakes and watershed issues with the people of Dane County. His favorite water place is anywhere he can get away in a canoe to a quiet place to see water creatures in their own habitat.

Pam Porter (County Executive’s designee since 2013)

Pam is a life-long environmentalist, swimmer, canoeist and dog lover with a M.S. in Agronomy from the University of Wisconsin Madison, on the management of switchgrass, a native perennial grass. She is Principal at P Squared Group, an environmental consulting firm focusing on climate and energy solutions. Previously she served as executive assistant to Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk and senior staffer to Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle and Elizabeth Burmaster, Wisconsin State Superintendent of Public Instruction. One of her favorite water places is her front yard, the mighty Yahara River and nearby Lake Monona.

Rebecca Power (Madison Mayor's designee since 2010 and Chair since 2014)

Rebecca is a water outreach program manager for the University of Wisconsin-Extension. She has been with UW-Extension working on natural resource issues for over 10 years. Previously, Rebecca has worked for the US Fish and Wildlife Service and a private consulting firm restoring savannas and wetlands. She is also an art photographer. She was appointed to the Lakes and Watershed Commission in 2010 as the Madison Mayor's representative. Rebecca is most proud of “Beyond Water’s Edge” photography contest honoring Dane County's waters, the role we all play in protecting them for future generations, and the Commission's 25 years of service to Dane County. She loves hearing about the many different ways that people are engaged in water stewardship and listening for the best opportunities to make a difference. She views increasing people's awareness of how the Commission's authority can be used to enhance water stewardship in Dane County as a future challenge. Her favorite water related place is Duck Pond Spring and Lake Wingra.

Lyle and his son Aaron portaging their canoe to a 'Take a Stake in Our Waters' event. Lyle Updike (Citizen representing Towns since 2005 and Vice Chair since 2014)
(photo) Lyle and his son Aaron portaging their canoe to a "Take a Stake in Our Waters" event.

Lyle retired from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services where he worked on financing and regulating health care providers for over 30 years. He’s been the Town Chair for the Town of Sun Prairie since 2000. He sits on a number of committees including Green Tier. Lyle is inspired by the recent update of the shoreland zoning regulations noting that the outreach and discussions with the stakeholders produced a superior product. Lyle especially likes working with the other Commission members and staff, where individuals of a variety political perspectives unite in common cause to protect and enhance water quality in Dane County. Dealing with a state legislature and executive that is hostile to protecting water quality in the state or supporting the public trust doctrine will be a challenge in the coming years. One of Lyle’s favorite places is the pond below the outfall of Stewart Lake.

Susan West (Citizen representing Cities and Villages outside of Madison since 2011)

Susan enjoys her work with the Commission to protect Dane County waters. She’s most proud of her contributions in securing budget resources to improve these water resources, and thinks that the Commission's focus on chloride reduction, especially from water softeners, is a high priority for our community. Her home prairie landscaping receives many compliments for its beauty, and Susan is happy that it also is improving water infiltration and therefore reducing runoff into our waters. Her favorite water place is Pheasant Branch Creek.



Yahara Waterways Trail Guide The Yahara Waterways Water Trail Guide is a great resource for exploring our area waters.