Seal of Dane County County of Dane
Dane County Land & Water Resources Department

Goals & Initiatives

Watersheds & Ecosystem Services

This webpage highlights our department goals and initiatives that help protect and improve natural resources through watershed management. Natural resources (land, water, air) are deeply interconnected and affect one another and so are many of our goals and initiatives. As a result, one initiative may result in progress towards multiple goals.  

Our priority goals are focused on the following:

Protect and Improve Surface Water Quality

Goal: Protect and improve surface water quality by reducing phosphorus runoff, improving runoff infiltration, and restoring streams and wetlands.

Why this goal is important: Soil and nutrient loss are the two primary pollutants that negatively impact our surface and groundwater. When it rains, soil and nutrients are transported in runoff to nearby surface water. Soil then settles out in our lakes and streams and prevents fish and other aquatic organisms from being able to find suitable habitat. Runoff also carries the nutrient phosphorus which promotes algal growth in our lakes and streams. Algal growth can be toxic. It also consumes oxygen when decomposing making it difficult for aquatic organisms and fish to survive.

As rain water moves through the soil into our groundwater it also brings with it the nutrient nitrogen. This nitrogen can be harmful to humans at high levels. The US Environmental Protection Agency has set the maximum level for nitrate in drinking water, to protect against blue-baby syndrome, at 10mg/l.

Initiatives and programs to achieve:

Build Community Flood Resilience

Goal: Improve community flood resilience by increasing runoff infiltration.

Why this goal is important: Climate change is causing more frequent and intense storm events resulting in larger amounts of rain falling in a shorter amount of time. This, combined with continued development and the conversion of natural and agricultural land to roads and buildings, results in less rain being able to infiltrate and seep into the soil. With less infiltration comes more water being held on the surface leading to standing water and increased flooding.

Initiatives and programs to achieve:

Increase Carbon Sequestration

Goal:  Mitigate or offset climate change affects through carbon sequestration (aka carbon storage)

Why this goal is important: Excessive carbon dioxide, CO2, in our atmosphere is one of the primary factors that negatively impacts our climate and causes climate change. As fossil fuels are used to heat and power our homes and fuel our transportation vehicles, more CO2 is being released into the atmosphere. The more CO2 in the atmosphere the more heat is trapped and radiated back to Earth causing to it warm. One of Dane County’s goals is to be climate neutral by 2030.

Initiatives and programs to achieve: