In 2008, Dane County along with the City of Madison, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, and Wisconsin Department of Agriculture Trade and Consumer Protection launched an effort to clean up the Yahara Lakes. The initiative, titled Yahara Capital Lakes Environmental Assessment and Needs (Yahara CLEAN), set a goal of reducing the annual phosphorus loading to the Yahara Lakes by 50%. The report outlined 70 different recommendations to achieve this goal.
Yahara CLEAN 2.0 (Clean Lakes Alliance), completed in 2012, identified the 14 most important actions for phosphorus reduction, and assigned costs and potential phosphorus reductions for each action. Improvements in manure management, cropping, tillage, and in-field practices were identified as the most important rural actions. Dane County responded by creating the Yahara CLEAN cost-share program (now part of the Conservation Practice Implementation Program). This program supports the implementation of conservation practices and systems that reduce both nutrient and sediment runoff to nearby streams that have the greatest potential for water quality benefits in the Yahara Watershed.
In 2020, the Clean Lakes Alliance launched Yahara CLEAN 3.0. The goals of this initiative were to: engage a larger and more diverse group of partners; re-evaluate and assess water quality targets and progress; and propose new strategies accounting for new information. Some examples of new information include the effects of recent increased precipitation on water quality and the recognition that runoff from frozen ground is the largest contributor to phosphorus loading to the lakes. The final report titled Renew the Blue was published in 2022.