Task force working to prevent more catastrophic flooding around Yahara Lakes

Task force working to prevent more catastrophic flooding around Yahara Lakes

A special task force is working to try and figure out how to prevent more catastrophic flooding around the Yahara Lakes. They put together a report which will be discussed with the Dane County Board Monday night.

Last summer’s flooding caused millions of dollars in damage in Dane County alone. The county has already included $18-million in this year’s budget for new initiatives in flooding prevention.

The task force weighed a bunch of different options, including lowering the level of Lake Mendota, removing all dams, bridge modifications and dredging more. They’re also trying to improve the flow of the Yahara River system itself.

The Clean Lakes Alliance also got a sneak peek at the report, and they believe it’s really very simple going forward.

“If everybody in the community thinks about how they can control that storm water, it’s going to help us in the end,” Adam Sodersten explained. “It may be a cost up-front of installing a rain garden or installing a rain barrel, but it may help prevent a cost of flooding or things that happen when we rush that storm water as fast as we can into the lakes, and then the lakes flood and it comes out.”

Sodersten says preventing that water from getting to the lakes in the first place also helps prevent phosphorus run off. We know what can happen when the rain washes particles and bacteria into the lakes. We get nasty lake quality conditions which mean we can’t even take advantage of what Madison is centered around.

Along with the prevention, the county is also looking at how to better its resources if we were to have any flooding again. That includes enhancing emergency response capabilities, like sandbagging efforts for example.

From the findings, the Clean Lakes Alliance still believes holding the storm water, redirecting it, or slowing it, is the answer to preventing more flooding and improving water quality.

“Clean Lakes Alliance’s mission is really very simple. It just says we see a future with the lakes as the center of the community,” Sodersten added. “This last summer we had an event that really made the lakes the center of the community. I think more than ever people are asking how they can help and what they can do to prevent this from happening again.”

The county has also opened up the discussion to the public online. A set of official recommendations is expected by the start of April.

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