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District 19

Alder Keith Furman

Image of Alder Keith Furman,
Council President

Alder Keith Furman,
Council President

Contact Information

Council Office

Common Council Office:
210 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd
Room 417
Madison, WI 53703
Phone: (608) 266-4071
Fax: (608) 267-8669
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District 19 Blog

County Board Eyes Lake Level Policy - Thurs, Sept 20 meeting to address flooding impact and causes

September 20, 2018 10:21 AM

I wanted to share news of a Dane County meeting this evening at 6pm about lake levels and some recent stories in the news regarding the subject that I found interesting:


Dane County announced yesterday they will hold a meeting tonight (Thursday, September 20th) at 6pm to start discussion of how to best respond to recent flooding. The meeting will be in Room 201 of the City-County Building at 210 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.

Some information from their notice:

Responding to flooding in the Yahara Lakes watershed, the Dane County Board is meeting as a Committee of the Whole to hear from County lakes experts and find answers to questions about the Yahara watershed. 

Additionally, a resolution that will be introduced at the Board Thursday calls for convening a group of experts to evaluate the situation and make policy recommendations by March 31, 2019. Those recommendations could include petitioning the state Department of Natural Resources to allow lower lake levels in the near-term and consider longer-term changes.

"Given the disastrous flooding we've experienced this summer, it's obviously time to take a look at lake levels," said County Board Chair Sharon Corrigan. "This resolution will set things in motion so we can make policy recommendations in the spring after receiving input from a variety of sources."

The Dane County Board meeting begins at 7 p.m. Thursday in Room 201 of the City-County Building at 210 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. in downtown Madison.  At 6 p.m. prior to the regular meeting, the Board will receive an update on the flooding and lake level management from the Dane County Land & Water Resources Department. Officials have initially estimated damage in excess of $78 million for residents and over $37 million to businesses, with only 2 percent of those damages insured.  The meeting will be broadcast via livestream and can be accessed here:

The county is responsible for maintaining water levels for the four major lakes in Dane County:  Lake Mendota, Lake Monona, Lake Waubesa and Lake Kegonsa, mainly through operation of the Tenney Park Dam. But any permanent changes in lakes levels must be approved by the DNR. The current target range of keeping Lake Mendota water levels at 849.6 feet above sea level was set in 1979.

Supervisor Yogesh Chawla (District 6, near east Madison) said he has seen the effects of the flooding first-hand along the Yahara River and Lake Monona.

"This resolution will help Dane County bring our lakes down to their state allowed minimums in the short term," he said. "It also provides a framework and timelines for a robust process to determine what the proper lake levels should be given a rapidly changing climate."

The resolution calls for the Land & Water Resources Department to prepare background material for the Lakes & Watershed Commission and the Environment Agriculture & Natural Resources Committee by immediately convening a technical work group that includes representation from the University of Wisconsin and other experts.

The group would evaluate conditions, model various scenarios that include predicted climate changes, identify short- and long-term recommendations to improve resiliency for future flooding events and make other recommendations that may include petitioning the DNR to change the permitted target range for lake levels.

Supervisor Chuck Erickson (District 13, near west Madison) serves on the Lakes & Watershed Commission and said he is looking for a long-term assessment of the situation.

"While lowering the lake levels is a good place to start, we need to closely review the impacts on the flow required to move water downstream and the impacts on the environment," he said.


If there is anything I can do to help, feel free to reach out:

-Keith F

Tags: stormwater

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