Dane County is working with other stakeholders to develop a plan to improve water quality in the Yahara chain of lakes. The Yahara CLEAN Compact (also called Yahara CLEAN 3.0) is the third version of the Capital Lakes Environmental Assessment and Needs.
The first Yahara CLEAN, completed in 2008, compiled 70 recommendations for cleaning up the Yahara lakes and beaches, and identified phosphorus and E. coli as the main targets.
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 which have the greatest potential for water quality benefits in the Yahara Watershed.
Yahara CLEAN 3.0 (Clean Lakes Alliance) has engaged more partners than previous efforts, will re-evaluate water quality targets and progress, and will propose strategies that account for new information, including 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. One highlight of Dane County’s contribution so far is leading development of a concise summary of Fundamental Concepts on Water Quality of the Yahara Chain of Lakes (PDF). The plan is expected to be completed in late 2021.