Dane County officials are putting slow-no-wake restrictions for boats on Lakes Mendota, Monona, Waubesa, and Kegonsa until further notice. A spokesperson for the office says those restrictions will be in effect for the next several weeks.
According to a statement released today by Dane County officials, the county has received 40 inches of rain so far this year. That’s already more than the average rainfall the county usually gets in an entire year.
Some streets along the Yahara River and elsewhere on Madison’s near east side were covered in water as of this morning. According to John Reimer, the County’s Deputy Director of Land and Water Resources, people on the lake have to be careful, too. That’s why the office instituted what they call “slow-no-wake” orders.
“Any motor boat that’s propelled with a motor can’t go faster than creating a wake with their boat,” Reimer says.
“That wake then creates waves, which impact the shoreline. Or, because of these high lake levels, they cause a lot of floating debris on the lakes. We want people to be safe and not have a crash with some of that debris.”
The increased water levels and flooding are a result of continuous, heavy rain fall over the past week. On Tuesday, the City of Madison sent out a warning to its residents about an evening storm that approached flash flood conditions.
Hannah Mohelnitzky, a spokesperson for the City’s Engineering Division, said they did not have an estimate of the damage to the city and that there were no deaths, but she’s not sure if the rain is over yet.
“It all depends on Mother Nature. The next weathermaker could be on Saturday,” Mohelnitzky notes.
“As long as the rain expected and forecast on Saturday isn’t like [what] we experienced in this last round, we theoretically should be okay, but it’s still early. Until we get to Saturday, and even after that, we’re going to continue to monitor the rain every step of the way and keep the public informed.”
Although the current lake levels are below their 2018 highs, county and city officials are working to prepare the city for future floods.
Dane County Executive Joe Parisi proposed about $3 million in the 2020 budget to buy land and use it to absorb runoff water, and $5 million for sediment removal to help water flow.
On the city level, Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway is proposing an additional $3 million to mitigate flooding, and the city’s engineering department is already studying ways to do so. According to Mohelnitzky, some of these projects are being implemented right now.
“We have one underway on McKenna Boulevard, installing a larger stormwater pipe, the pipe was undersized in that area,” Mohelnitzky says.
“We’ve done a lot of work on University Avenue. There’s a number of projects. But of course every area depends on the landscape.”
Mohelnitzky says that eight other projects are currently being studied.
A map of the flooded areas is available on the City of Madison website, where you can also sign up for flooding updates by text message or email.