Plan to restore Yahara Lakes - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Plan to restore Yahara Lakes

MADISON (WKOW) -- Dane County unveiled a bold new plan to restore the Yahara chain of lakes.

At Thursday's public hearing, the Lakes Commission asked for a lot of money to get the job done--more than $13 million.

But commission members said, for the first time in many years, they feel they finally have the public support to launch this grand restoration.

"Our ultimate goal is to protect our lakes, make it so we can all swim there, fish there, and not have to worry," said Lakes Commission Chairman Brett Hulsey.

The biggest investment: $9 million to buy and restore wetlands, which would act as a buffer zone to reduce flooding. Another half million dollars would be used to prevent run-off into the lakes, a major source of pollution.

"As we wash in more nutrients we have more algae growth, excessive weeds," said Doug Back, Yahara Lakes Association President

"What this proposal does is increase monitoring and also increase measures to clean up storm sewers that dump into the lakes," Hulsey said.

Water flow, both going in and out of lakes, is a crucial element of the plan--$2 million to upgrade dams and locks. Supporters say while this investment may be expensive, it's worthwhile to all residents of Dane County.

"People are seeing economical impacts because of degradation of the lakes," said Robin Schmidt, District 24 Supervisor in Dane County. "It would be shortsighted for us not to put money upfront. In the long term, the economic benefits will be realized."

Lake Monona resident Charles Dykman said, "We can have cleaner lakes. It's going to take some money to do it. But, it's a possibility. We can do this."

The Lakes Commission will now pass on its recommendations to Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk. She must deliver her budget to the county board on or before October 1st.

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