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Dane County faces groundwater flooding one year after historic rainfall

Dane County faces groundwater flooding one year after historic rainfall
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Dane County faces groundwater flooding one year after historic rainfall

MADISON, Wis. - Dane County officials addressed the groundwater flooding that is still affecting homeowners and farmers following the historic flood dropping 15 inches of rain and causing more than $154 million in damage. 

The county received 18 inches of rain above normal in 2018, mostly due to the flood last summer. The average rainfall of 2019 is already eight inches above normal, according to Dane County Executive Joe Parisi. 

Due to the flooding damage, Dane County added more than $18 million to the budget to improve impacts of future flooding. 

Nearly one in every 10 acres of cropland in Dane County went unplanted this spring, according to Parisi. 

"Because not only the rain last year, but this year is that we have record high groundwater and as I mentioned you can see that as you drive throughout the county and you see areas that were cropland that are under water now," Parisi said.

John Brown rents his land to a farmer and said he will see a loss this year. 

"If you can look high, you can see right where the water table is not going to amount to anything. Just a waste putting it in is what's sad," Brown said pointing to the noticeable difference between the good and bad crops. "I would say he's going to lose at least half."

Parisi said there isn't much that can be done to fix the groundwater flooding. 

“So that groundwater situation is a challenge and again, there is nothing that any of us can do about that. It’s just a function of all of the rain we get," Parisi said.

County officials are focusing on improving water flow by implementing a five-phase plan to remove sediment from the bottom of the Yahara River and area lakes, along with purchasing 160 acres of land. Phase one is expected to begin in fall of 2019.

 “We can’t control the weather. We can’t stop it from raining 15 inches of water like last year, but we are doing everything we can to make sure we can respond as soon as possible," Parisi said.

The county purchased more sandbagging machines, a water rescue boat and added weed cutters to help become better equipped if a flooding event happens again. 

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