Construction runoff may be impacting Madison area lakes - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Construction runoff may be impacting Madison area lakes

Posted: Updated:
Clean Lakes Alliance, algae 5/15/18 Clean Lakes Alliance, algae 5/15/18

MADISON (WKOW) -- Lake Mendota has already seen blue-green algae blooms, much earlier than last year, after heavy rainfall this month.

Clean Lakes Alliance captured images of the algae Tuesday near James Madison Park. It's raising some concerns about runoff in the area. Experts say they're not just worried about the impact of agriculture.

Heavy rains can tear up construction sites, sending debris and silt into the lakes. Crews have to take measures to avoid erosion, but fences and berms can only do so much in a downpour.

"They're designed to work up to a certain point. When rain storms exceed that event, in terms of intensity or amount, kind of all bets are off," said Greg Fries, assistant city engineer. 

As part of a permit to do work, crews are required to monitor erosion control systems weekly and after every rain, to make changes as needed.

Advocates say the city staff do a good job monitoring to prevent erosion, but it may not be enough anymore. 

"The best laid erosion control plan maybe can't control the erosion that's going to happen," said Adam Sodersten, with Clean Lakes Alliance. "It's just sort of a changing part of the times. We are seeing climate change, these rain events we're getting in the last 10 years are more intense than they were in the 50 years leading up to those last 10 years."

The organization is working with officials as part of a task force, searching for new options to stop erosion. They've been meeting the past six months and plan to make recommendations soon. 

Meanwhile, the group asks everyone to do their part to keep the lakes clean. The average person should keep leaves out of the road, pick up trash and slow erosion with a rain barrel or rain garden in their yard. You can also ask building owners if they have developed an erosion control plan to spread the word about the importance of protecting our lakes. 

Powered by Frankly