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Blue-green algae more prevalent, lake activists hope for action

MADISON (WKOW) — Beaches across Dane County are closing down because of blue-green algae but the Clean Lakes Alliance says it’s a trend that’s getting the communities attention.

Officials said bacteria continues to grow with the hot and wet weather and don’t expect it to get better anytime soon.

“When we hear people are unhappy with the situation of the lakes, that’s good for us, because we don’t want people to be happy with the situation that the lakes are in right now,” said Adam Sodersten with Clean Lakes Alliance.

Sodersten said the more people who get involved the better condition Wisconsin’s lakes will be. They recommend building rain gardens, which help reduce stormwater runoff, a valuable tool to help protect lakes.

“If we all do it, it’s going to make a big difference. If we can build 10,000 rain gardens in Madison, we’re probably going to start to see a change,” said Sodersten.

The Clean Lake Alliance is revising its long-term plan to help clean up the lakes, for example, rehabilitating water quality and improving beach safety. The result was the creation of the Yahara CLEAN Strategic Action Plan for Phosphorus Reduction. 

It’s a collaborative effort with Dane County, city of Madison, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, and the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection. Their goal: reduce phosphorus and educate the community on how they can help. But over the last few years, challenges arise with costs and climate change.

“The cost of projects changed. The economy has changed, so you have to update that financial plan,” said Sodersten. “But I think in the last probably five to seven years, actions have gotten better. There are more people that rake their leaves out there are more people that are building rain gardens.”

Clean Lakes Alliance updated their Plan 2020: A Clear Path Forward in 2019. They hope to launch the plan in 2021.

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Emilee Fannon

Capital Bureau Chief

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