How to help keep the community, Madison-area lakes clean … from home!

We’ve seen the pictures circulating worldwide: clear canals in Venice and smog-free skies above Los Angeles. Environmental improvements are the rare silver lining of the coronavirus pandemic. But do they extend to our greatest natural asset: local lakes?

Adam Soderson, a spokesperson for the Clean Lakes Alliance, says surprisingly, the pandemic hasn’t had much of an effect so far. The Alliance’s number one focus is controlling runoff in order to reduce algae-causing phosphorus from entering the lakes.

“Unfortunately, the pandemic doesn’t affect factors like storm water, soil erosion, or leaf management, all which contribute to phosphorus pollution,” said Soderson.

What the pandemic has done, however, is bring more people to the lakes. Soderson has noticed the numbers go up: more people taking safe and socially-distant walks, runs, and rides along one of the many lakeside paths. The Greater Madison area has five lakes and nearly 60 miles of shoreline.

While the pandemic isn’t having many immediate impacts on local lakes, the Clean Lakes Alliance is hoping it will change the way we use them going forward.

“I think one thing that will happen is people will perhaps appreciate the lakes even more, which could lead to more action to improve lake health,” said Soderson. “People are spending more time in their local community. In Greater Madison, our lakes are one of the best parts of our community. I think people will want to make sure these large community assets stay safe and healthy.”

May 21st, the Clean Lakes Alliance will launch its 7th season of volunteer monitoring that reports near-real-time data from 70 points (including all beaches) around all five lakes. The volunteers record water temperature, clarity, and turbidity, as well as any visual observations related to blue-green algae at least twice a week. Anyone interested in becoming a volunteer is asked to contact the Alliance.

The Clean Lakes Alliance is also out with a new list of the Top Ten Actions people can do at home to help the lakes. Suggestions range from redirecting your downspouts and planting more vegetation to starting to compost and creating a rain garden or rain barrel. The Alliance is hoping people will pick an action or two to do, take a picture, and share it with them to inspire others.

Click here for the full list.