Recommendations to Dane County Yahara Chain of Lakes Lake Levels Task Force.
Authored by:Isthmus Flood Prevention Coalition
Supported by:Marquette Neighborhood AssociationTenney-Lapham Neighborhood AssociationSASY Neighborhood Association
Concerned neighbors from MNA, Tenny-Lapham, and SASY created a working group to better organize neighbor efforts around the issue of flooding. We've been attending the Yahara Chain of Lakes - Lake Levels Task Force meetings (held weekly in Feb.) and working with experts on the issue of flood prevention and mitigation.
We've named ourselves the Isthmus Flood Prevention Coalition and east side neighbor Shaun Abshere has done a fantastic job of organizing our group. Ultimately our goal is to develop a list of recommendations (such as lowering lake levels, dredging, etc) for inclusion in the Yahara Lakes Task Force's final report for flood mitigation and prevention in the Madison area which will be submitted to the County is April.
Our recommendations on behalf of our neighborhoods include:
1. Policy Timelines. Dane County should adopt a long-term watershed-wide approach to managing the Yahara Chain of Lakes and make chain-of-lakes-specific policies that are targeted for implementation and assessment within 1 year, 3 years, 5 years, 10 years, 20 years and 30 years.
2. Oversight. The Dane County Lakes and Watersheds Commission should collaborate with the Dane County Board’s Environment, Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee to oversee and assess the effectiveness of County policies for short- and long-term flood risk reduction and improved resiliency throughout the Yahara Chain of Lakes watershed.
3. Dredging. With the cooperation of local governments, Dane County should dredge soon and as needed into the future the Yahara River from Lake Monona to the Stoughton Dam.
With the cooperation of the City of Madison, dredge soon and as needed into the future the Yahara River from Lake Mendota to Lake Monona.
All such dredging should be limited to restoring the natural depth of these channels.
4. Lake Levels. Dane County in consultation with the City of Madison and other municipalities in the Yahara Chain of Lakes should promptly petition the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to initiate the official process to review and revise its Lake Levels Orders for the Yahara Chain of Lakes with the intent of reducing lake levels incrementally over the next 30 years to achieve increased storage capacity, reduce flood risk and increase watershed resiliency to flooding. This reduction also will enhance habitats for fish, wildlife, terrestrial and aquatic plants within the Yahara Chain of Lakes.
Recognizing that such a review of Lake Level Orders will take time, until the DNR modifies its Lake Level orders for the Yahara Chain of Lakes, and in keeping with Dane County Board Resolution 227-2018 now in force, Dane County should suspend the target ranges for lake levels established by the Dane County Lake Level Management Guide for the Yahara Chain of Lakes and instead continue the Res-227-2018 directive that:
“Dane County will continue to implement any tools that may be available to lower lake levels to DNR designated minimum levels as soon as possible and work to maintain lakes at that level...to the extent that managing any given lake will not create flooding on other lakes or other unintended consequences.”
5. Isthmus Stormwater Diversion. Dane County in partnership with residents of Madison’s Isthmus neighborhoods should request that the City of Madison take immediate steps in 2019 to reduce stormwater drain backups and to assess alternatives for redirecting stormwater outflows elsewhere to slow the entry of stormwater into the Yahara Chain of Lakes.
6. Dane County & City of Madison Stormwater Regulation. Dane County should adopt, implement and enforce the policy recommendations of the 2017 Joint Stormwater Technical Advisory Committee.
Dane County in partnership with residents of Madison’s Isthmus neighborhoods should request that the City of Madison adopt, implement and enforce immediately within its boundaries the same stormwater policy recommendations.
Dane County should act jointly with county municipalities to seek exemption from state stormwater control legislation (Act 243) that prohibits flood-prone areas such as the Yahara Lakes Watershed from adopting stricter stormwater regulations which would increase water infiltration and reduce downstream flooding and property damage.
7. Wetlands. Dane County should promote and include significant wetlands restoration and preservation throughout the Yahara Lakes Watershed in annual work-planning by the County and other state, local and non-profit partners.
8. Aquatic Plant Harvesting. Dane County should continue early, vigilant and ecologically-sound aquatic plant harvesting to ensure that water flows through the Yahara Chain of Lakes have optimal velocity throughout the ice-free season.