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2011 Dane County Waters Champion Awards

Much of what has been accomplished county-wide, and especially in the Yahara chain of lakes, has been made possible by past Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk and past Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz. Working together was key to much that they accomplished while in office. Press Release

Individual: Kathleen Falk

The health of Dane County waters was a major priority for Kathleen. Her mantra was, “let’s keep the lakes blue and the lawns and fields green.” Following are just a few of her many water quality accomplishments.

  1. In 2007, Kathleen established Land & Water Legacy Fund to fund efforts to address non-point pollution, especially the movement of phosphorous, sediment, and trash into our lakes. It has funded the purchase and restoration of drained wetlands in the upper Mendota watershed and the rehabilitation of old stormwater drainages and outfalls around our lakes so they trap sediment and litter.
  2. Kathleen led the effort to construct Dane County’s “Cow Power Project.” This is the first community manure digester in Wisconsin that’s shared between several farms and among only a few in the entire country that uses advanced technology to substantially remove phosphorus, the leading cause of algae and weed growth in Dane County’s lakes. It’s the first known digester in the country to be both shared by neighboring farms and remove phosphorus to this extent. In addition, it is generating about $2-million a year in renewable electricity, enough to power 2,500 homes. Construction of a second digester west of Middleton will begin later in 2011.
  3. Throughout Kathleen’s terms, the county restored trout streams and secured permanent, public access to those streams, with long stretches of top quality streams throughout the Sugar River and Gordon Creek watersheds. Her administration worked with many partners to restore the West Branch of the Sugar River – the first stream in the state to be removed from the US EPA’s impaired water lists as a result of restoration work, in 2004.
  4. Kathleen recognized that there also must be a regulatory element to protecting the environment, especially surface water resources. With her direction and support, Dane County became:
    • The first Wisconsin county to ban lawn fertilizers containing phosphorous. Our approach was affirmed by the federal Court of Appeals and became the basis of state law.
    • One of the first counties in our nation to include a thermal standard for runoff and to encourage infiltration (in order to protect trout streams); and established very strong stormwater and erosion control regulations.
    • First Wisconsin county to regulate winter spreading of manure.

Individual: Dave Cieslewicz

Among Mayor Dave’s accomplishments is his work on a variety of programs to build Madison’s reputation as one of the greenest, sustainable communities in America. Four areas of Dave’s water quality programs stand out:

  1. Committing City staff and resources to support Yahara CLEAN cooperative work with Dane County, state agencies, and other partners.
  2. Innovative beach projects and plans to address pollution challenges and reduce beach closures at Madison beaches. This work included experimental booms around the swimming areas at Bernie’s Beach and BB Clarke Beach beginning in 2010, designed to see if they can work to keep algae scum away from the swimming area. These projects are part of a larger effort to study alternative ways, including a rain garden and prairie sod at Vilas beach, of dealing with tough summertime algae and beach bacteria issues.
  3. Increased street sweeping to reduce sediment runoff into lakes and streams.
  4. Promoting rain gardens, including installation of terrace rain gardens in conjunction with street reconstructions. There are several terrace rain gardens in place now, where the city pays 75% of the cost of installation and planting on Adams Street, Keyes Avenue, Rowley Avenue and along Waunona Way, the southern shore of Lake Monona.

Project: Dane County Cow Power Project

Completion of the first-of-its-kind community manure digester near Waunakee that helps keep algae-feeding phosphorus out of our lakes and streams. Construction of a second digester west of Middleton will begin later this year. The digester complexes are located in areas identified by the Yahara CLEAN MOU work as having some of the highest phosphorus and sediment contributions to Lake Mendota.

Project: Stewart Lake Restoration

Keys to this successful restoration project near Mount Horeb included local partnerships and student assistance with fish restocking.

Project: "Wingra Waters: An Evening of Poetry, Story and Song in Celebration of Lake Wingra"

Raised funds in a Madison neighborhood for a filtration fountain to help clean Vilas Beach waters.

Project: Lake Belleview Restoration

The Village of Belleville installed a berm to separate the Sugar River from the millpond, remove accumulated sediment to restore depths of eight to ten feet, and will be restoring the wetland. Just this morning, fish from the Sugar River were transferred into Lake Belle View.

Project: Village of Maple Bluff Stormwater Quality Improvement Project

This cooperative project with the City of Madison and the private sector improved runoff quality flowing into Lake Mendota, from hundreds of acres of land.



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