One of the more noticeable changes occurring to our climate is an increase in heavy rain events that lead to more phosphorus being flushed into our lakes, fueling algae growth. It’s estimated that over half of the algae producing phosphorus entering our lakes originates in layers of decades-old muck that’s built up in streams that feed into our lakes. This muck accumulated over the past century before today’s modern approach to farming practices that more effectively prevent soil erosion.
With efforts well underway to prevent future run-off from farms, building sites and urban streets, we are focusing our lakes clean-up efforts on addressing the root cause of the phosphorus feeding today’s algae blooms: that decades-old muck covering our streambeds.
Over the next four years, I’m proposing that Dane County invest $12 million to “suck the muck” out of 33 miles of local streams, removing 870,000 pounds of phosphorus from the system. With $4 million for the first phase of this project funded in my budget for this year, engineering and design work critical to the project’s success is underway currently. The first miles of phosphorus laden sludge are slated for removal this fall. We can’t reach our goal of having cleaner lakes without removing this muck.
Dane County will continue to our efforts to clean up our lakes but it isn’t going to happen overnight. We’re making progress. We can’t accomplish our goal without getting at what’s already in the water.