Weed harvesters work to clear heavy growth in Dane County lakes

Weed harvesters work to clear heavy growth in Dane County lakes

Five days a week, a steady parade of 10 weed harvesters make their way across the lakes surrounding Madison. They began their work in May, and given the heavy growth of weeds they are seeing, the harvesting will continue until the first week of October.

“We’ve been here for the last three weeks, and we’ve been harvesting between 30 and 40 loads a day,” Kevin Connors, director of the Dane County Land and Water Resource Department, said. “The purpose of providing the weed harvesting program in this area is to provide navigational access out to deeper parts of Lake Monona.”

When the weed harvesting began they discovered the growth to be heavier than in recent years.

“This year the vegetation seems to be a little bit heavier in the spring than it was last year at the same time,” Connors said.

Rather than a sign of a problem, it is actually a positive indication of the health of the lake.

“Earlier this spring we had some real clean water and sunlight gets down to the bottom of the lake and that allows the vegetation to start growing much more rapidly,” Connors said.

Keeping the waterway clear of weeds is important for boaters who use the lakes for recreation.

“If we have water you can paddle then the people are really excited to get out and play but when they see it kind of mated up like it is, it is a deterrent,” Stephan Reinke, manager of the Brittingham Boats rental facility on Monona Bay, said.