Unusual winter rain runoff is problematic for lakes

More rain in forecast
Unusual winter rain runoff is problematic for lakes
Parts of Monona Bay are icy, but Lake Monona is not frozen yet.

All the rain we are seeing this winter means we could see more blue-green algae this summer.

The Clean Lakes Alliance said this winter’s unusually warm temperatures, reduced snow and increased rain is problematic for the lakes.

“The reason is the ground is frozen, but the lake is open, or even if it isn’t open, any rain that comes down in the form of precipitation can’t soak into the ground. So it’s just going to run off that hard ground and run right into the lake,” said Adam Sodersten, with the Clean Lakes Alliance.

We have more rain in the forecast as we enter the first full week of 2019.

“That runoff is going to take nutrients with it. It’s going to take phosphorous, and that actually feeds the cyanobacteria bloom, or blue-green algae, that we see in the summer. So we’re almost fertilizing the lake ahead of time, predicting that anything that could happen in the summer could be worse,” said Sodersten.

Sodersten said we don’t usually see this much runoff in the winter, but the climate has changed in the Midwest over the last 15 to 20 years, causing more intense rain events.

He said this means the community will need to double its efforts in the spring and summer to make sure rainwater is redirected to keep it on land instead of letting it wash right into the lakes.

“In the summer, we just really need to completely rethink about what we’re doing so that we can keep as much of that precipitation on the land as possible and out of the lakes,” said Sodersten.

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