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Soglin takes County to task over lake levels

MADISON (WKOW) — In a re-issued memo to the Madison Common Council, Mayor Paul Soglin Monday reviewed the aftermath of the August flooding while pointing a finger at Dane County officials in their handling of lake water levels.

Soglin said Lake Mendota was already high before the Aug, 20 storm hit and the rain water raised the lake to a level almost a foot above its safe maximum.

Lowering the water level on Mendota depends on the water level on Lake Monona, which was also very high.

Soglin maintains that if the water level on Mendota was lowered too fast, flooding would occur in the whole chain of lakes including the Yahara River.

All this flooding might have been averted if Lake Mendota was maintained at the allowable range, which is the responsibility of Dane County, says Soglin.

The mayor acknowledged there was wide-spread street flooding and said the 2019 budget will address the chronic flooding in the McKenna Road area on the city’s south-west side.

He also said other street areas in the city such as University Ave., Odana-Mineral Point and a dozen others flooded for the first time will be examined and recommendations made how to handle the amount of rain that came down on Aug. 20.

Soglin also admitted the cost of correcting these problems will be extraordinary with little, if any, financial help coming from state or gederal sources.

The mayor went on to say that “constituents expressed concern to me that Dane County political leadership does not acknowledge that the lakes were too high above the allowable limit and they are deflecting criticism, placing blame on the city for the flooding,” according to Soglin.

Soglin had three recommendations how to proceed with flood control plans:

1)  Get Lake Mendota down to the allowable minimum elevation

2)  Once Lake Monona is at its lowest allowable summer level, proceed with a demographically formed Yahara Lakes Advisory Group to use existing data to lower Monona water height.

3)  Further convene the Advisory Group to determine the optimal level for Lake Mendota.

Soglin also took a parting shot at Dane County Executive Joe Parisi referring to recent editorial by Parisi in the Wisconsin State Journal in which the County Executive suggested Madison cap storm sewers.  Soglin said this was “gibberish engineering nonsense”.

The mayor went on to say that capping city storm sewers was “an incredibly unfashionable idea that should be put on the shelf with outdated science such as that the earth is flat, alchemy can turn lead into gold, and Donald Trump’s brain.”

Jim Letourneau

Assignment Desk Editor, WKOW-TV

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