Yahara Lake Level Recommendations
The Dane County Board adopted the resolution 2018 Res-227 which called for the creation of 1) a technical report to identify ways to address flooding on the Yahara chain of lakes and 2) a task force to make policy recommendations. Task Force meetings and public input led to the following recommendations:
- Final Task Force Recommendations (PDF) - March 18, 2019
Click on the tabs below to learn more about the progress completed towards Task Force recommendations, the 2018 Task Force, and 2001 & 2012 YLAG (Yahara Lakes Advisory Group) findings.
Progress towards each of the Final Task Force Recommendations (PDF) is detailed below:
The purpose of this webpage is to provide updates on progress made toward task force recommendations. In addition, quarterly updates are presented at the joint Lakes & Watershed Commission and Environment, Agriculture & Natural Resources Committee meetings (see below):
- Quarterly Report Presentation - May 9, 2019 (PDF)
The efficient movement of water in the Yahara River may be reduced by sediment accumulation. On April 9, Executive Joe Parisi announced the first phase to remove sediment will be between Lake Monona and Lake Waubesa. This location, one of six sites along the Yahara River, is a $2 million initiative to improve water flow, flood storage capacity, and fish and wildlife habitat in the Yahara Lakes.
- Press Release: Dane County Announces Five Phase Project to Improve Water Flow Out of Yahara Lakes, Mitigate Flood Risk - April 9, 2019
- Project Map (PDF)
Operations continue to be coordinated between DNR, Dane County (owner of the Tenney, Babcock and LaFollette dams), and the City of Stoughton (owner of the Stoughton Dam). To lower water levels, Babcock Dam and Lafollette Dam have been open in full flow condition since August 2016, with the exception of one week in the spring of 2018, when flow was reduced in an attempt to bring water levels up to summer minimum levels.
Aquatic Plant Harvesting
In the 2019 budget, the county added two new harvesters to its fleet to cut and remove aquatic plants to help increase the flow of water out of the Yahara system. The Aquatic Plant Management webpage describes this program in more detail and shows the currently locations of the harvesters.
- Press Release: Dane County Launches Expanded Fleet of Weed Cutters to Fight Lake Flooding - May 28, 2019
The county continues to implement tools that may be available to lower lake levels to DNR designated seasonal minimum levels and works to maintain lakes at that level.
Lake Level Management Guide
The Lake Level Management Guide for the Yahara Chain of Lakes (PDF) is planned to be updated in 2019.
Stormwater and Infiltration
The Stormwater Technical Advisory Committee continues to meet to determine how to best implement the recommendations in the Stormwater Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) Report (PDF). Agendas and minutes for the TAC are posted on Legistar under the Lakes and Watershed Commission.
The following land purchases/grants by Dane County will help reduce sediment and phosphorus runoff in the Yahara Watershed.
- Press Release: Dane County Makes History by Purchasing 160 Acres of Property for Pheasant Branch Conservancy - May 16, 2019
- Press Release: Dane County to Award Grant to Groundswell Conservancy for Land Purchase in Westport - May 2, 2019
Dane County Emergency Management will purchase Water Inflatable Property Protection devices for use in future flood events.
A technical work group met from October 18, 2018 to January 25, 2019 to evaluate lake level conditions, model various scenarios that include predicted climate changes, and identify short- and long-term approaches to improve resiliency for future events. The work group compiled their findings into a technical report.
A task force began meeting on February 4, 2019 to review the technical report findings and make policy recommendations. Task force meeting details and information are posted on Legistar. Make sure to select "Yahara Chain of Lakes-Lake Levels Task Force" and "2019" from the drop downs to see the full meeting schedule.
- Draft Task Force Recommendations (PDF) - March 15, 2019
- Summary of Draft Task Force Recommendations (PDF) - March 15, 2019
- Final Task Force Recommendations (PDF) - March 18, 2019
Video/Audio Meeting Recordings:
- February 4 (audio) - presentation slides are attached to the meeting minutes (PDF)
- February 11 (audio)
- February 18 (video)
- March 5 (video)
- March 18 (video)
The task force held a public comment period during the meeting on March 5, 2019 at 5:00 pm. The minutes for that meeting are posted on Legistar.
Comments Received (black boxes are redacted addresses):
- Through February 6, 2019 (PDF)
- Through February 13, 2019 (PDF)
- Through February 18, 2019,10 AM (PDF)
- Through March 1, 2019, 5 PM (PDF)
- Through March 6, 2019 (PDF)
- Through March 12, 2019, 1 PM (PDF)
Yahara Lakes Water Level Advisory Group
The Yahara Lakes Advisory Group was convened in 2001 (YLAG) and 2012 (YLAG2) to develop recommendations on how to best manage the Yahara chain of lakes as a system. The group examined the operation, physical constraints, and changing hydrology of the Yahara chain of lakes and make water level recommendations that balance public and private interests.
The YLAG2 group completed its recommendations (PDF) in 2012. Documents from those meetings are linked below (PDF files).
- Final Recommendations of YLAG2 2012
- Charge to Group
- Meeting Schedule
- Participant List
- Facilitated Process
- System Map and Lake Schematics
- Yahara Lakes Water Level Chart
Draft Recommendations of the YLAG2 Group
- Draft Recommendations of the YLAG2 group
Public Forum - March 28, 2012
This free public event was designed to provide the public opportunity to learn about and comment on draft recommendations developed by the Yahara Lakes Advisory Group 2.
YLAG2 Meeting Materials:
- Meeting #14 - March 8, 2012
- Meeting #13 - February 29, 2012
- Meeting #12 - February 9, 2012
- Meeting #11 - January 26, 2012
- Meeting #10 - January 10, 2012
- Meeting #9 - November 29, 2011
- Meeting #8 - October 27, 2011
Economics of the Quality & Quantity of Freshwater (presentation by Dave Marcouiller)
Hazard Mitigation (presentation by Roxanne Gray)
Public Health (presentation by Mark Werner)
Water Recreational Study Findings
- Meeting #7 - September 29, 2011
The Cultural Heritage of the Yahara Corridor (presentation)
- Meeting #6 - August 25, 2011
Cherokee Wetlands and Water Level Impacts (presentation by Russ Hefty)
Fish & Habitat (presentation by Kurt Welke)
Wetlands and Wildlife in the Yahara System (presentation by Cami Peterson)
- Meeting #5 - July 28, 2011
Map of the Four Lakes 1800s
Navigation and Recreation (presentation by Kevin Connors and Sergeant Ritter)
- Meeting #4 - June 23, 2011
Hydraulics 101 (presentation by Sue Josheff)
Lower Yahara River Elevation Study September - November 2009 (presentation by Mike Amstadt, Vice President - Lake Affairs)
Managing Water Levels in the Yahara Lakes (presentation by Jeremy Balousek)
Integrated Nowcast/Forecast Operation System for Yahara Waters (presentation by Chin Wu and John Reimer)
Chart of Flow Constrictions
- Meeting #3 - May 26, 2011
Factors Affecting Water Levels in the Yahara Lakes (presentation by Ken Potter)
Groundwater and Potential Impacts to Yahara Lake Levels (presentation by Ken Bradbury)
Top 10: 24-hour Precipitation Record
Madison Precipitation Data 1940-2009
- Meeting #2 - April 28, 2011
Lake Level Management (presentation by Kevin Connors)
Flood Mitigation (presentation by David Janda)
- Meeting #1 - March 24, 2011
Yahara Lakes Advisory Group (YLAG1) History