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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
WI Relay Service

District 19 Blog

October Office Hours, County Flooding Plans, Council Flooding Briefing and Yard Waste Collection

October 1, 2018 7:35 AM

This is a big update that covers a few different topics including my October office hours, recently announced plans by the County to address flooding, an upcoming briefing to the Madison Common Council by the City staff about the recent flooding and information about fall leaves/yard waste collection.

Office Hours

In October, I will be holding open office hours twice:

Date Location
Saturday, October 6th (7:30am - 10am) Westside Community Market - Behind UW Health Digestive Health Center; Corner of University Avenue & University Row
Thursday, October 18th (4:30pm - 7pm) Alicia Ashman Library - Study Room - 733 N High Point Rd, Madison, WI 53717

If you have a question, concern or topic of interest that you would like to discuss, but the times above don't work for you, you can e-mail me or schedule a meeting with me online at


Dane County Budget Initiatives Focus on Flooding

Here's a news release from the County:

Historic late summer flooding resulted in millions of dollars in damage across Dane County. Hundreds of homes and businesses were damaged by flash floods on August 20th with lake flooding in subsequent days resulting in further damage downstream. The 2019 Dane County budget recognizes that all units of government – the state, cities, villages, towns, and the county – have the obligation to invest in strategies that reduce risk and improve preparedness in the event of future flash floods and high water events.   We also have continued work to restore our hardest hit communities. Flood risk in Dane County has been increasing and will likely continue to increase unless urgent and vital actions are taken.


Maximizing Water Flow Management

The tie that binds Lakes Mendota, Monona, Waubesa, and Kegonsa is the Yahara River. The faster water moves through this corridor, the quicker lake levels can decline in the wake of heavy rains. For example, following the August 20th rains, a team of Dane County aquatic plant harvesters worked the river corridor and successfully doubled the flow of water moving south out of the Yahara Chain. The 2019 county budget creates a new $2 million initiative to analyze and restore potential locations in the river where water flow may be constricted. These dollars will fund sediment removal and other remedies where it's determined flow could be safely improved. Hydraulic dredging, comparable to the county's "Suck the Muck" initiative in the Yahara watershed, could both improve the rate at which water leaves the Yahara Lakes for the Rock River but also improve water quality. Nearly a month after August's rains, levels on Lake Monona were 8 inches higher than its downstream neighbor, Lake Waubesa.  With no dam or barrier in between, this location is prime for analysis and work of why water is slow to move between the two lakes. It's estimated it takes two inches of rain, over two weeks to leave the Yahara Lakes system. Limited differences in elevation of the lakes make it more necessary to evaluate places where sediment loading and other restrictions undermine the efficient movement of water downstream.

The budget also includes $440,000 for two new aquatic plant harvesters and $50,000 for a hydraulic crane that will mount to an existing barge to improve the county's ability to remove aquatic plants, trees and other large items of debris that restrict flow in the Yahara River. New dollars are included ($50,000 new, total of$378,600) to staff this additional equipment, bringing a total of fourteen county harvesters and barges able to remove aquatic plants and debris that otherwise slow flow. During the peak of the August flooding, county aquatic plant harvesters removed 270 loads of aquatic plants from the Yahara River over 5 days.

To support the important community conversation into the New Year about how to best manage lake levels given the increased frequency of heavy rain events, the budget includes $75,000 to conduct real time modeling of the benefits and considerations for various lake level scenarios. This team can also help identify points of restriction in the river channel where flow rates may be diminished due to built-up sediments. Retaining an outside, professional team of engineers to evaluate flow rates along with the cause and effect of altering various levels will give a more complete picture of how the ecology of the Yahara Chain could be impacted by water level changes both during flooding and drought conditions.

With a clear focus on improving flow, this budget centers on one critical component of lake management county government can most directly improve, in the shortest amount of time. The county secured an emergency permit earlier this summer to remove debris that accrued under a rail bridge just north of Stoughton. When the work was done, 31 dump truck loads of sediment and debris were removed, alleviating flooding in Pleasant Springs and Dunn. Moving forward, it's imperative we examine additional bridge crossings. This includes the Highway N bridge over the Yahara River. This budget includes $150,000 to design replacing that bridge, with an estimated $1 million in additional dollars for the county's share of construction in 2020.

Flood Recovery

From Black Earth to Belleville, August's flash flooding decimated not only homes and roads, but also the places where neighborhoods and families recreate and rely upon for the quality of life we are so proud to offer in Dane County. Our trails, streams, and bridges experienced significant damage. Insurance may cover some losses. We hope to hear more in the weeks ahead about potential Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recovery funds but there will likely be a need beyond those resources to complete repairs and restore these special places back to what they were. The budget includes $1 million for a park and trail flood repair matching grant fund and a $500,000 streambank restoration fund. Black Earth Creek, Pheasant Branch Creek, the Sugar River and other gently flowing waterways were turned into raging rapids by the historic rains of August. Restoring damage to these streambanks will reduce future erosion and promote healthy habitat for fish and wildlife.

Natural Mitigation

The 2019 county budget includes new ways to improve stormwater storage and keeping rains on the land instead of running off. Wetlands are Mother Nature's best remedy for reducing the devastation caused by flooding. The budget includes $200,000 to begin analyzing a restoration of the Door Creek wetlands that were inundated with water through the summer. These wetlands prevented worsening flood conditions for homes in the Towns of Dunn and Pleasant Springs. One acre of wetland, that's typically three feet deep can hold 325,000 gallons of floodwater.  Door Creek is identified as a potential "Suck the Muck" location, and the overall project goals are to restore a system that improves water quality, adds flood capacity, and improves fish habitat.  Public access to the Door Creek Wetlands will also improve with the addition of the next phase of the Lower Yahara River Trail that will span Fish Camp County Park to Lake Kegonsa State Park and is currently under design.

The budget creates the brand new Dane County Conservation Reserve Program to help convert lands at greater risk of run-off to prairies and grasses that are more able to hold soil and reduce water run-off. Modeled after the once popular Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) administered by the federal government, this brand new, $750,000 county program will pay farmers and property owners to convert lands to permanent cover to address resource concerns such as erosion. Furthermore, the budget includes $8 million for potential conservation acquisitions with a similar goal – permanently securing properties that improve the county's ability to reduce stormwater run-off and improve water quality.

As the magnitude and frequency of extreme rainfall continue to increase due to climate change, it is important to recognize that rainfall increases explain only 50% of the observed increases in Yahara River stream flows. The remaining half is due to the increase in  urban and suburban stormwater runoff into the lakes by covering formally water-absorbing soils with impervious surfaces, such as streets, parking lots and rooftops of homes and businesses.  In the 20 years between 1990 and 2010, development in Dane County has increased by an average of 2,300 acres per year or about 45,000 acres.  The average annual stormwater runoff from undeveloped agricultural land is about 2 inches per acre, compared to stormwater runoff from a developed lot of 5 inches – about 120,000 gallons per acre per year or an increase since 1990 of 3.2 billion gallons of water run-off each year. The budget adds additional funding to the urban water quality grant program ($1 million new money) and adds stormwater volume control as an eligible project type. Municipalities may apply for grants to support projects that improve the quality or reduce the volume of urban stormwater runoff. 

Improved Resiliency/Preparedness

The increased frequency of flash flooding events in this quickly growing, more urbanized area means county government needs to enhance its emergency response capabilities. County government issued over 400,000 sandbags and deployed two sand-bagging machines during the August rains and subsequent flooding. The budget includes dollars to acquire three more fast-fill sand bagging machines, another 250,000 sandbags, large pumps to move volumes of water off roads and other critical infrastructure, and portable generators that can keep services needed in an emergency situation going even if power is out. Purchasing larger flood barriers and a high capacity pump can help us re-open roads in a more timely fashion. We also need to look at county highways more prone to flooding and when the time comes to upgrade them, we consider raising their elevation. This budget includes $200,000 to raise Highway W in the Town of Christiana which was underwater on separate occasions this summer. The budget has $80,000 for the Sheriff to purchase a new airboat to help with high water rescues. This watercraft proved invaluable when Black Earth Creek inundated the Village of Mazomanie, requiring a number of residents to be evacuated in short order by boat. To ensure a seamless public safety response, the budget also includes funds for a new web-based phone communication system to assist the 911 Center. Used during Hurricane Harvey, this system ensures that when 911 lines are full of callers seeking help, those with an emergency can report it in real time through a website that will directly alert the Dane County 911 Center. The budget also includes $25,000 for the county to help with emergency housing for those with special needs who need to be moved from harm's way in a short time frame.

Total of New Flooding Initiatives

  • Conservation/Stormwater Management Acquisitions: $9 million

  • "Suck the Muck" – Sediment Removal to Improve Water Quality, River flow $2.5 million

  • Yahara River Flow Improvement Fund & Flow/Water Level Analysis:  $2 million

  • Highway/Bridge Improvements: $1.35 million

  • Flood Restoration Fund Parks/Trails:  $1 million

  • Stormwater Controls:  $1 million

  • Dane County Conservation Reserve Program:  $750,000

  • Two new weed harvesters, lake debris barge crane, staff:  $500,000

  • Streambank Restoration: $500,000

  • Wetland Restoration, Yahara Flow/Lake Level Analysis:  $275,000

  • Sandbagging Machines, Sandbags, Flood Barriers, Pumps, Generators: $308,000

  • Sheriff's Airboat, 911 Web Reporting, Emergency Housing:  $110,000

  • Total:  =  $18,293,000



On September 20, Dane County held a meeting to discuss 2018 Flooding & Lake Level Management of the Yahara Chain of Lakes. Asstistant Director John Reimer of County Lakes and Water presented and you can see the video here if you are you interested:


Common Council Informational Presentation: August 20, 2018 Storm & High Lake Level Crisis that Followed

On Tuesday, October 2 at 5:30pm, City staff will present information to members of the Common Council on the August 20 storm and the high lake level crisis that followed the storm. City staff will discuss what happened, why it happened, and the steps the City will take to reduce flooding in the future.  *Please note that there will not be an opportunity for public testimony at this presentation.* 

The meeting will be in Room 201 of the City-County Building at 210 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. The meeting will be broadcasted on the City Channel live and will be available on-demand.


Fall Leaves/Yard Waste Collection Begins Today! (Monday, October 1)

Here information from the City of Madison Streets Divison:

The City of Madison Streets Division will begin curbside leaf and yard waste collection for the fall on Monday, October 1

More information about leaf and yard waste collection, including a survey about how yard waste collection services, can be found on the Streets Division's website,

What is "Leaves and Yard Waste"?

Yard waste includes:

  • Leaves, weeds, garden trimmings, and other leafy plant debris.
  • Twigs less than 18" long.
  • Pumpkins, crab apples, pine cones, etc.

When to Place Leaves and Yard Waste to the Curb

Residents have two options to learn when they should place yard waste to the curb for pick up.

Option 1: View the Map

Go to the Streets Division's yard waste website,, and click the "View Pickup Schedule" button.

The button links to an interactive map that shows the areas of Madison that have crews working, and which neighborhoods should place yard waste out for pickup.

Once on the map page, enter your address into the top left corner. This will zoom the map into your immediate area. If your neighborhood is shaded green for "Pickup Pending," you should get yard waste out for collection because crews will be around soon to pick up what is out.

The online map is updated at the end of each workday.  Residents who use the map should check it regularly to see if their neighborhood should get yard waste to the curb.

Option 2: Call the Hotline

A recorded hotline is available to hear collection time estimates to determine when to place yard waste to the curb. The recording also details leaf and yard waste collection rules. The number is 608-267-2088. The hotline is updated weekly.

How to Place Yard Waste for Collection

Do not place leaves and yard waste in the street. Pile leaves and yard waste on the terrace or at the road edge.

Keep piles four feet from obstructions, such as utility poles and fire hydrants.

Do not mix brush and yard waste together. These are separate collection operations and they are processed differently. Yard waste piles mixed with brush will not be collected.

Yard waste and leaves can be piled loose on the terrace or road edge. Residents can place a tarp over the leaf piles to prevent them from blowing into the street.

Residents can also use in compostable paper lawn bags, or plastic bags, to prevent leaves and yard waste from blowing into the street. Compostable paper bags are easier for crews to collect, so if you elect to bag leaves please choose the large paper bags that are available at most major retailers. Plastic bags will work, but crews may need to slit the bags open to dump out the leaves, and they need to leave the plastic bags behind at the curb since there is not room in their trucks for empty bags.  All bags should be left open at the top so crews can identify their contents.

Collection Opportunities

The Streets Division has a goal to provide each residence at least three collection opportunities in the fall, depending on what weather conditions allow.

When collection begins on Monday, October 1, crews will continue to cycle through the city again and again until winter weather requires crews to move to snow and ice control operations.

In order for residents not to miss their collection opportunities, it is important that they monitor the Collection Schedule map or call the collection hotline to be sure material is curbside in time for pickup.

Keep Streets Leaf-free

Leaves and yard waste contain phosphorus. When it rains, water flows through leaf piles in streets creating a phosphorus rich "leaf tea" that travels through storm drains to our lakes. The excess phosphorus leads to toxic algae blooms, low oxygen levels, and green murky water in our lakes - none of which are good for animals living in the water or those who use our lakes for recreation.

Plus, leaf and yard waste piles can wash into the storm drains and clog them, which can lead to street ponding.

Drop-off Sites

In addition to using the curbside collection service, Madison residents can bring their leaves and yard waste to any of the three yard waste drop-off sites. 

The sites are open seven days a week from 8:30am to 4:30pm and until 8:00pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays. 

The yard waste sites are located at 1501 W. Badger Rd on the southwest side, 4602 Sycamore Ave on the east side, and 402 South Point Rd. on the far west side.  The drop-off sites are for Madison residents only, and proof of residency is required in order to use the site.

Additional Information and a Survey

There are multiple opportunities to learn more about proper yard waste management.

Residents can consult this brief guide about other ways to protect our lakes by keeping the streets leaf-free.

The Ripple Effects website has a detailed information about leaf management and other important storm water issues.  On the Ripple Effects website, you can sign up to receive text or email alerts on when the street gutter should be raked in advance of a rainstorm to prevent a release of nutrients into the storm water system. Ripple Effects is the website for the Madison Area Municipal Stormwater Partnership.

Residents can also go to the Streets Division yard waste website, Collection rules, the pickup schedule map, and a short video about the yard waste collection process can all be found there.

While on the Streets Division yard waste website, residents are encouraged to provide their feedback about yard waste collection, and other Streets Division services, via an online survey. The opinions shared on this survey will help the Streets Division improve delivering our services.

Residents can contact the Streets Division office that services their neighborhood to answer questions they may have about yard waste collection and the drop-off sites.  Residents east of S. Park Street, and that includes the isthmus, can call the east side Streets Division at 608-246-4532 and residents west of S. Park Street can call the west side Streets Division at 608-266-4681. 

Additional information regarding leaf and yard waste collection, the drop-off sites, and other solid waste services can be found on the Streets Division website,


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

-Keith F

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