‘Imagine Madison without Mendota & Monona’: Local non-profit emphasizes importance of protecting lakes as weather forces cancelation of largest fundraiser

MADISON, Wis.– The impending, end-of-week cold is already canceling events, including the annual Kites on Mendota festival. The cancelation is the second blow to the Clean Lakes Alliance, the non-profit that relies on the event, as well as the already-canceled Frozen Assets Festival, to fund its work year-round.

The Alliance was built on the principle that the lakes are not only the geographic center of Madison, but an economic driver, too.

“If we didn’t have these large resources, it would greatly change everything in our community,” said Adam Sodersten, Marketing & Communications Director for the Clean Lakes Alliance. “We might not be able to recruit top talent to some of the businesses in town. And maybe, some of the top businesses wouldn’t stay here anymore.”

The 58 miles of shoreline between Madison’s five lakes often propels the city onto lists of the ‘Best Places to Live.’ During the pandemic, they’re getting even more use.

“We definitely saw more people using and enjoying these resources we have in Madison, which is awesome,” Sodersten said.

The Clean Lakes Alliance refers to the lakes as Madison’s largest parks. They’re free to use, although they’re not free from problems.

“Everything that happens on the land is going to eventually make it to the lakes,” said Sodersten.

The Alliance depends on money from its largest annual fundraiser, the Frozen Assets Festival, to manage runoff throughout the year. With this year’s festival canceled, that money won’t be there. Now, the non-profit is hoping the community will step up before they ever have to step in.

“In Madison, all our storm drains lead to the lakes,” said Sodersten. “So we need to think about, ‘How do we hold that water on the land a little more instead of just rushing into the lakes?'”

How you can help:

After thawing out from this week’s deep freeze, the Alliance will turn its attention to spring and is hoping the community will, too. Sodersten says rain barrels, rain gardens, and diverting rain spouts are all free ways the public can help hold the water from melting snow on land, which will mean less runoff, blue-green algae, and closed beaches later this year.

The Alliance has also compiled a list of the ‘Top Ten Ways to Help the Lakes from Home.’

“You don’t have to have a home,” Sodersten clarified. “You can have an apartment or you can encourage a business to do some of these practices. It’s sort of like recycling: the more we talk about it, the more people will start doing it!”

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