An effort to get phosphorus out of Dane County lakes could establish a model for Wisconsin. Phosphorus is fine for crops and lawns, but it causes weeds and algae blooms in Wisconsin lakes. And in the Madison area, this year is looking worse than usual, according to Melissa Malott, Water Director for Clean Wisconsin. “We already have a beach that’s closed because of blue-green algae, and we have humongous mats of weeds across the lakes.”
Malott says a pilot project north of Lake Mendota will serve as a test of ways to keep phosphorus out of the lakes. If the pilot proves successful it could be scaled up to the entire watershed, and used elsewhere in the state. “If we do this, we will save tens, if not hundreds of millions of dollars, because we won’t have to put expensive phosphorus control technology on our sewage plants. We’ll be able to get our waters clean in a much more cost-effective way.”
Dane County is teaming with Madison Metropolitan Sewerage District and 30 other cities, villages, and towns throughout the Yahara Watershed to implement the four-year project.