The turning of a new year is a time of reflection. We look back on what we’ve accomplished, and set goals for the year ahead.
The same holds true for Dane County, which released a report earlier today on the amount of “muck” that got “sucked” out of the waterways this year. That’s all part of a years-long initiative to prevent flooding.
I joined the County Executive’s office in looking back on 2022.
Since the torrential flooding of 2018, the Suck the Muck initiative has worked to clear sediment buildup from Dane County’s many waterways, and create more basins for excess water to flow into.
The removal and relocation of phosphorus runoff is also a key part of the plan to improve overall lake quality, cutting down on toxic algae blooms in the summer.
According to the the County Executive’s office, just one pound of phosphorous can create up to 500 pounds of algae growth.
This year, the “Suck the Muck” initiative tackled the Six Mile Creek watershed area, which runs through Waunakee, northwest of Madison.
Starting in early May, dewatering basins began to pimple the landscape around the Mary Lake area of Six Mile Creek. As the nation celebrated its 246th birthday in July, the county office also celebrated the completion of the dewatering basins, heralding the start of the dredging process. As the summer leaves turned brown, so did the basins as they filled with muck and grime dredged from the belly of Six Mile Creek. When the lakes froze, so did the dredging efforts, which will resume again in spring when the ice melts.
Now that dredging efforts are on seasonal hiatus due to winter weather, the county has year-end data for how much “muck” was “sucked” in 2022.
25,000 pounds of muck removed in 2022.
And 60,000 pounds of phosphorus just from Six Mile Creek, confirming earlier sampling showing the creek had suffered a concentration of buildup on the bottom of the creek.
Combined, that’s a little more than a third of the total muck and phosphorus that’s been dredged up over the past few years.
The county also removed 37 million gallons of sludge from waterways between Lake Waubesa and Lower Mud Lake, just south of McFarland, this past year to keep potential flooding bottlenecks open.
Removing phosphorus from lakes and riverbeds keeps algae in check. Bluer waters and cleaner shores could slowly be on the horizon as more and more phosphorus and sludge are removed.
And the removal of so much sediment deposits means that water will flow better between bodies of water, reducing the risk of floods.
As we welcome the new year, the county office will start new sediment removal projects along the Door Creek wetlands in 2023. Dredging will begin again in spring, as soon as weather permits.
Reporting for WORT news, I’m Erin Ashley, and happy new year!