$10M targeted to clean county lakes, streams

Funding will go to strategies focused on cleaning Yahara chain of lakes
$10M targeted to clean county lakes, streams

Dane County’s 2015 budget will represent a big financial commitment to clean lakes and streams in the area. It is also a budget that reflects a growing cooperative effort among government leaders, environmental groups and farmers to solve the problem.

“When we partner and we come together and pool our resources and pool our knowledge and pool our passion for cleaning up our lakes and leaving those lakes to the next generation in better shape than we inherited them, that’s when we can get a lot done,” Dane County Executive Joe Parisi said.

Parisi unveiled a 2015 budget that targets more than $10 million in resources toward the cleaning of lakes and streams in the county.

It will include $500,000 in low-interest loans and grants for farmers to construct manure storage facilities if they agree to not spread manure on their fields during the winter. Research has shown that the spreading of manure during winter, especially in late winter, has a significant impact on phosphorus runoff into lakes and streams.

The county is also supporting the opening of a new manure digester that has technology that will make it possible to remove 100 percent of the phosphorus.

One million dollars is also being targeted for Urban Water Quality Grants to improve an aging infrastructure. The money will be used to keep pollutants from entering lakes and streams following heavy rains.

The budget will also provide $60,000 to remove phosphorus that already exists in high concentrations in sediment.

Of significance is the support this proposal is getting from both environmental and agriculture groups.

“At points in time, we were not always seeing eye to eye. It has been real refreshing these last several years that we’ve been able to sit down with the county executive and his staff and really begin to have some good, frank discussions,” said Bob Uphoff, a Dane County farmer whose family has been farming for more than 100 years.

Cleaning the area’s lakes and streams is important to the health of the community and the economy. The beauty of those waterways draws tourists to the area, and last year direct visitor spending in Dane County accounted for $1.35 billion, according to Oxford Economics.

Maintaining a strong farm community is also important. Last year, according to University of Wisconsin Extension, agriculture contributed $3.19 billion to Dane County’s economy.

The goal of this cooperative effort is to assure the long-term survival of both the lakes and farms.