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Waters Champion - 2005

The Dane County Lakes and Watershed Commission has announced its 2005 Dane County Waters Champion Award recipients. The awards are given annually recognizing individuals, organizations, and businesses that have made outstanding contributions towards the protection and improvement of Dane County's water resources. Their work has made a positive impact on water quality as well as the scenic, economic, recreational and environmental value of those lakes and streams.

"This year's Water Champions are terrific examples of people taking steps in their everyday lives that benefit us all. Thanks to their efforts, we all can enjoy our beautiful lakes," said Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk.

Individual: Dr. Elena Bennett

Dr. Elena Bennett is a researcher at the University of Wisconsin Center for Limnology. Her comprehensive study on phosphorus levels in Dane County soils conclusively proved that the phosphorus content in Dane County lawns greatly exceeds an amount needed for healthy lawn growth. Her findings revealed a phosphorus level so high as to eliminate any need for future applications on almost all lawns.

This strong evidence led the way for the passage of the Dane County ordinance to prohibit phosphorus applications for residential yard use in Dane County. The ordinance will result in reduced phosphorus loading in stormwater runoff into the county's lakes and streams.

"Dr. Bennett has made an exceptional contribution to the work of the Lakes and Watershed Commission," said Limnology Professor John Magnuson. "She also found that phosphorus levels are increasing in the land. The rate at which phosphorus moves into water is greater than that used to produce dairy, beef and other agricultural products. This means that keeping phosphorus out of lakes and streams will be even more difficult," he said.

Business: Joe Daniels Construction Company

Joe Daniels Construction Company, were instrumental in the success of the Targeted Resource Management restoration projects on the West Branch Sugar River over a six-year period. Steve Hansen's crew removed invasive species of brush and trees, while leaving native, desirable vegetation. They shaped and seeded streambanks to prevent future erosion and sedimentation, in addition to installing fish habitat structures.

"The Sugar River project would not have been as successful as it was had we not had the cooperation, professionalism, expertise and willingness of Steve Hansen's crew," said Kevin Connors, Director of the Dane County Land and Water Resources Department.

Their work was a significant contribution to the removal of the West Branch Sugar River from the State's impaired waters list.

Organization: The Sisters of Saint Benedict of Madison

The Sisters of Saint Benedict of Madison, whose community is located in the Lake Mendota Watershed, converted more than 90 acres of their 130-acre property to its original native mesic prairie state in order to reclaim and preserve endangered flora and fauna. They built a detention basin to control runoff into Lake Mendota and improve the water quality.

The Sisters also restored Lost Lake, a 10,000-year-old glacial lake, to near its original size and depth. They removed 85,000 cubic yards of silt that accumulated from more than 50 years of erosion caused by nearby urban development and farming.

"The work we did-restoring native ecosystems and preserving biodiversity-is earthtending, a centuries-old Benedictine tradition. Earth stewardship includes extending hospitality to creation and the land itself so that all who come here receive the blessings of the earth," said Mary David Walgenbach, OSB, prioress of the Sisters of Saint Benedict of Madison.

A reception and awards presentation for these Waters Champion Award recipients will take place at the Concourse Hotel on Friday, June 17, at 5:00 p.m. The public is invited to attend.

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