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Dane County and Friends Fight Phosphorous

Posted: 3:39PM June 11th, 2012 | Comments

Green lakes are out, blue is the new. Dane County is partnering up with Madison Metropolitan Sewerage District and 30 surrounding cities, towns and villages in order to reduce phosphorus runoff entering the Yahara Watershed. The phight against phosphorus is on. 

The Yahara WINs (Watershed Improvement Network) pilot project was created to significantly reduce phosphorus runoff throughout Dane County. Phosphorus pollution comes from two main sources: farm fields and point sources such as municipal sewerage districts and food processing factories.  Excessive phosphorus levels have plagued Dane County lakes and waterways, resulting in annual algal blooms and hypoxic dead zones, turning lakes green and mean. Summer heat turns phosphorus runoff into a thick mix of green algae consisting of sludge, municiple waste water, sewage, fertilizers and farm waste. The ol' watering hole has become a lot less appetizing. 

This four-year pilot project utilizes an adaptive management strategy in hopes of decreasing the private costs associated with meeting Wisconsin's regulatory requirements. In the past, phosphorus sources have been addressed indendependently, resulting in expensive and resource intensive solutions. Yahara WINs will reduce costs associated with phosphorus reduction compliances by an estimated 75% through community collaboration and improved cost effective practices. 

The prospect of reducing phosphorous pollution with reduced costs has Industry, community and conservationists all eager for results. Monona Mayor Bob Miller said,

"The City of Monona is supportive of the adaptive management pilot project for several reasons. It promotes broad collaboration between many diverse groups affected by the watershed. The innovative solutions will provide flexibility and will work to be cost effective for everyone involved."

This year's county budget included $50,000 to start the pilot project in the Sixmile Creek sub Watershed, which drains into Lake Mendota. Through collaboration with the newly established Yaraha Pride Farms Organization and the Clean Lake Alliance, farming families north of Lake Mendota are optimistic and eager to work with Dane County to improve the quality of their waterways and strengthen conservation efforts. 

The Yahara WINs is a win-win. Who wouldn't be excited about cleaning the green, while saving some green?

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