Public Health News Release Avoid Blue-Green Algae

Public Health – Madison & Dane County
For Immediate Release Contact:
Jeff Golden 608 243 0302

Summer is Blue-Green Algae Season

Avoiding Contact is Best Way to Avoid Problems

Madison WI – June 13, 2012 – Based on recent news reports and Public Health beach closing notices, this year´s blue-green algae season has clearly begun. The safest response when you see a bloom is to keep yourself, your children, and your pets out of the water and avoid all contact.

While blue-green algae often occurs intermittently throughout the summer season, the dry, hot, and sunny weather forecasted for the next seven to ten days may create favorable conditions for increased blue-green algae blooms on area waterways.

Blue-green algae are actually not algae, but photosynthetic bacteria (sunlight-loving) known as cyanobacteria.  Some of these bacteria are capable of producing toxins. Exposure to these toxins can produce a range of reactions, from rashes and lip blistering to negative effects on the liver and nervous system.  It can include sore throats, headaches, muscular and joint pain and asthmatic and gastro-intestinal symptoms.  Dogs swimming in or drinking water covered with a bloom can suffer near fatal or fatal consequences.

If you believe you have been exposed, contact your health care provider right away.  You should also report this to a lifeguard and call Public Health at (608) 266-4821.

Blue-green algae occur naturally in lakes, streams and ponds and have been around for millions of years.  When water temperature, wind and wave patterns combine with high nutrient levels in the water, these bacteria will grow into ugly mats that are most often blue-green in color, but can also be reddish-purple, or brown.  The only benefit to its disgusting appearance and smell is that it tends to keep people away.

The lakes are always in motion–the wind and waves that bring a bloom to a beach are just as capable of blowing it away.  Blooms can linger for mere hours or days depending on weather conditions, and the public is encouraged to pay attention to changing conditions while enjoying the water and beaches.

The appearance of these blooms is hard to predict and even harder to manage. For example, if we try using herbicides or algaecides, we will succeed in killing the bloom, but as the bacteria die, they will release all their toxins into the water and thus create a potentially bigger problem.

City of Madison engineering has installed special deflectors to help keep blue green algae out of the swimming areas of Olin and BB Clark Beaches.  Public Health is in the process of evaluating the effectiveness of this approach with the hope that it might offer some protection. An innovative water treatment system will be installed shortly on Bernie´s Beach.  Preliminary testing of the system shows it to be very promising.

Reducing the amount of phosphorous and nitrogen fertilizers that run off into the lakes could have the effect of reducing the high concentrations of nutrients that promote algae growth.  This issue is actively being addressed by a number of interested individuals and groups, but it is a long-term strategy and will not solve the immediate problem.

Public Health-Madison and Dane County monitors water quality at most Madison area beaches including routine, weekly testing for bacteria and blue-green algae. If test results show that beach conditions are not safe, the beach is closed. Follow-up testing is done every day until the problem clears up.

Up-to-date beach conditions are always available online

For more detailed information on blue-green algae, check out the DNR’s website at


An online version of this release is available at



State of the Yahara Lakes Report Reveals Health of Lakes and Beaches in Summer of 2011

A new report by the Clean Lakes Alliance, the State of the Yahara Lakes Report, released in conjunction with the first annual Save Our Lakes Summit, highlighted ways (or metrics) to evaluate conditions in the Yahara Lakes during the summer of 2011.   The report details information about water clarity, phosphorus levels, beach closures, and more.  For the first time the State of the Yahara Lakes Report pulls together information from a variety of scientific and government sources including Public Health Madison and Dane County, Dane County Office of Lakes and Watersheds, and the University of Wisconsin Center for Limnology.

Water clarity, as measured by a black and white Secchi disk, did increase in 2011 in three of the four Yahara Lakes (Mendota, Monona, and Kegonsa).  Water clarity is linked in part to the amount of phosphorus entering the lakes from the Yahara Watershed, as high-levels of phosphorus contribute to fertile growing conditions for algae.  Drought-like conditions in 2011 reduced the input of phosphorus and sediment that entered the lakes thus reducing their concentrations of phosphorus.

Weather conditions are likely to have a strong impact on water clarity in the summer of 2012 and beyond, but there are a variety of tools, citizens and municipalities can employ to improve water quality in the lakes.  The cities of Middleton and Madison, for example, are advancing stormwater management practices such as stormwater retention ponds and rain gardens.  Throughout the Yahara Watershed farmers in agricultural areas are planting cover crops to reduce phosphorus runoff in the winter months.   Earlier this month Dane County kicked off the second manure digester project to be located on the Ziegler farm in Middleton. The cumulative effect of these and other emerging programs should continue to help enhance and preserve water quality in the local lakes, though extreme weather events, and land use changes continue to challenge the resilience of local lakes.

Don Heilman, President of the Clean Lakes Alliance urged citizens to take “saving the lakes” into their own hands saying: “residents of Dane County can protect water quality this summer by taking simple actions at home and in their gardens.”  Rain barrels and compost bins that help prevent stormwater runoff and wastewater pollution are available at the annual sale at the Alliant Energy Center.  This year’s sale is May 12th from 9 a.m. till 3 p.m.  He went on to say “saving our lakes will require all hands on deck, we all have the power to protect and preserve these precious resources.”

The State of the Yahara Lakes Report is available on-line at

Committee Reports from Jan 20, 2012

January 2012 Board and Committee Meeting Reports

On January 20, 2012 the Clean Lakes Alliance Community Board and its committees met to set priorities for the year.  Below are the committee reports.  Any questions or comments can be referred to

Economic Impact and Resources

As a committee of the Clean Lakes Alliance, the Economic Impact and Resources Committee (EIRC) will focus on two tasks: (1) assessing the economic value to the local community and the State of Wisconsin of the Madison area lakes and the value of cleaning up the lakes; and (2) researching methods for obtaining funding or implementing policies to clean up the Madison area lakes.  

Task 1 will primarily consist of researching for existing economic valuations of the lakes and/or locating and hiring an economic consulting group that can estimate the monetary benefits associated with cleaning up the Madison area lakes.

Task 2 will primarily involve researching ways of obtaining local, state or federal funding or implementing policy initiatives that will ultimately either pay for, or lead to, the cleanup actions identified in the Strand report.

Friends of Clean Lakes

The Friends of Clean Lakes Board is charged with developing and growing a volunteer organization to engage our community with the efforts of the Clean Lakes Alliance.  “Friends of Clean Lakes” is an organization of individuals who believe the lakes are the center of our community.

Task 1: Create the architecture of the auxiliary organization.
Task 2: Create a messaging and communication plan.
Task 3: Create a friend-raising plan. 

 Yahara Pride Farm Conservation Board

The Yahara Pride Farm Conservation Board is made up of progressive farmland stewards dedicated to enhancing conservation practices that can reduce runoff from ag land to feeding tributaries in the Yahara Watershed. The board composition is currently 5 producers from across the region, 1 crop consultant, 1 agribusiness, and members of the CLA board.

The group has decided to utilize the Dorn Creek Pilot Project, identified by MMSD for phosphorus reduction, as the pilot for how they best operate as an organization going forward. The first meeting of the 30 farm producers of the Dorn Creek area will take place on March 15 in Waunakee.

As an organization, the group has focused on winter cover cropping as it’s emphasis for 2012. A program for sign-up of interested producers will be developed. Funding for the program will be contingent on agreement to track success and yields. Other information to be collected will include:     
a. field type           
b. crop rotation           
c. timing of seeding
d. seed type
e. spread technique

Strategic Direction

The Strategic Direction Committee provides guidance to the CLA Board of Directors and executive staff on integrating lake clean-up initiatives with CLA’s resources, needs, goals and mission.

Membership of the committee reflects the public-private partnership through which CLA works. The committee is comprised of five representatives from government agencies, five representatives from the area’s business community, and a representative of the University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Limnology.

Currently, the committee administers the project involving the Strand report, which will provide costs and prioritization of steps listed in the Yahara CLEAN report. The group has tussled with different elements of the process regarding delivery factors of phosphorus to waterways. As a result, has decided to table the process of identifying the top 10 best actions to take, and focus on the long list of actions, priorities, benefits and costs of all opportunities for phosphorus reduction.

The report is due from Strand by March 15, 2012

Mendota Freeze Contest Names a Winner


DATE: January 16, 2012
CONTACT: James Tye, Director of Development and External Affairs Clean Lakes Alliance
Cell: (608) 628-6655 or

Mendota Freeze Contest Names a Winner!

Waunakee Woman Wins Grand Prize of Cross-Country Ski Package

MADISON, WI – The Clean Lakes Alliance is pleased to announce that Beverly Miller, of Waunakee, has won the first annual Mendota Freeze Contest by guessing correctly that Lake Mendota would freeze for the first time this winter on January 14.

“I am surprised and very excited,” Miller said, when she was notified today about the contest results. She added that she had entered the contest at the urging of her son, who saw it reported on WMTV-TV in Madison.

Don Heilman, CLA president, said the lake’s later-than-average freezing date resulted in even more people entering the contest than he had expected.

“The Mendota Freeze Contest opened on December 1st and ran until Saturday, when the Wisconsin State Climatology Office announced that the lake had officially frozen over,” he said. “We had fantastic participation from the public and great support from our sponsors, and I think everyone had a lot of fun with it.”

More than 500 people entered the free online contest by registering their freeze predictions at the CLA website, Lake Mendota’s freeze date was determined by the Wisconsin State Climatology Office, which has tracked the freeze dates for Madison lakes since the mid-19th century. Miller’s name was drawn from the entries of the first 10 people to correctly guess that January 14th would be the day.

Miller won the grand prize of a complete cross-country ski package donated by Erehwon Mountain Outfitter. CLA also awarded prizes of $50 gift certificates, donated by Middleton Sports & Fitness, to four runners-up. Their names, also drawn from the pool of correct entries, are Connie Estep, Matt Murphy and Victoria Whelen, all of Madison, and Mike Hardiman, of McFarland.

Heilman said the contest was intended to draw attention to the year-round importance of area lakes.

“So many people enjoy our lakes in the winter as well as in the summer,” he said. “Nearly every day of the cold-weather months you can find people ice boating, snowshoeing, skating and fishing on our lakes, they really are Madison’s frozen assets!”

The Mendota Freeze Contest was sponsored by and Madison Magazine. Hundreds of people followed the contest on Twitter (@crazy4lakes and #mendotafreeze) and on Facebook at, and CLA plans to maintain those sites for several weeks so that people can learn more about the history and quality-of-life contributions of Mendota and Dane County’s other lakes.

For more information on the freeze dates for Lakes Mendota, Monona and Wingra, visit the Madison Lakes Ice Summary at the Wisconsin State Climatology Office.

# # #


The Clean Lakes Alliance is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization dedicated to the improvement and protection of the lakes, streams and wetlands of the Yahara Watershed. Through community support, advocacy and education, the Alliance is leading the charge to restore and protect the lakes for future generations.

MyWeather was created by Weather Central, LP (, to provide consumers with personalized, precise, portable weather data and graphics online and on mobile devices. Weather Central, founded in 1974 by broadcasters and meteorologists based in Madison, Wisconsin, is the leading provider of professional on-air, online, print, mobile, and enterprise weather solutions and forecasting in North America and to major customers worldwide. Utilizing the company’s dynamic weather graphics, precise forecast models and data, and patented technology, more than 1,000 partners and hundreds of millions of consumers worldwide benefit from Weather Central’s attention to weather presentation, detail and insight. For more information please visit, like, watch and follow @myweather.

Mendota Freeze Contest

For Immediate Release

DATE: December 1, 2011
CONTACT: James Tye, Director of Development and External Affairs
Clean Lakes Alliance
Cell: (608) 628-6655 or

Mendota Freeze Contest Begins December 1
Entrants Can Win Prizes by Guessing When Lake Mendota Will Freeze

MADISON ### Think you know when Lake Mendota will freeze this year? Enter the Mendota Freeze Contest and you could win a prize for your correct guess!

The free, online Mendota Freeze Contest is now open for entries. The contest is sponsored by the Clean Lakes Alliance and, a division of Weather Central LP. Madison Magazine is serving as a media sponsor and Erehwon Mountain Outfitter is donating the grand prize.

Don Heilman, president of the Clean Lakes Alliance, says his organization works to engage the public in efforts to protect and enhance the water quality in area lakes. He is pleased that the contest will call attention to the starring role Dane County lakes play in many types of winter recreation.

“People enjoy our lakes in the winter as well as in the summer,” Heilman says. “Nearly every day of the winter you can find people ice boating, snowshoeing, skating and fishing on our lakes*they really are Madison’s frozen assets!”

To enter, participants can register at and submit the date on which they think Lake Mendota will freeze, as determined by the Wisconsin State Climatology Office. Entries are limited to one per person; in the event of multiple correct guesses, a winner will be drawn from the first 10 people who submitted a correct guess.

The grand prize is a complete cross-country ski package from Erehwon Mountain Outfitter. Winter-recreation prizes, such as skates and outdoor apparel, have also been donated by area business as prizes for contest runners-up.

In addition, the contest will feature fun and educational information about Lake Mendota and other area lakes in the winter.

“From the history of Lady Liberty on Lake Mendota to a timeline of past freeze-overs, this contest is a great way to showcase our lakes in the winter and get people involved in supporting cleaner lakes all year long,” says Heilman.

People can follow the contest on Twitter (@crazy4lakes and #mendotafreeze) and on Facebook at For more information on the contest, visit or any of the sponsor websites.

# # #


The Clean Lakes Alliance is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization dedicated to the improvement and protection of the lakes, streams and wetlands of the Yahara Watershed. Through community support, advocacy and education, the Alliance is leading the charge to restore and protect the lakes for future generations.

MyWeather was created by Weather Central, LP (, to provide consumers with personalized, precise, portable weather data and graphics online and on mobile devices. Weather Central, founded in 1974 by broadcasters and meteorologists based in Madison, Wisconsin, is the leading provider of professional on-air, online, print, mobile, and enterprise weather solutions and forecasting in North America and to major customers worldwide. Utilizing the company’s dynamic weather graphics, precise forecast models and data, and patented technology, more than 1,000 partners and hundreds of millions of consumers worldwide benefit from Weather Central’s attention to weather presentation, detail and insight. For more information please visit, like, watch and follow @myweather.

Clean Lakes Alliance Supports Edgewater Development

For Immediate Release

DATE: November 8, 2011
CONTACT: Don Heilman, president, Clean Lakes Alliance
(608) 836-6973;

Clean Lakes Alliance Supports Edgewater Development

Organization Lauds Plans to Create Better Public Access to Lakeshore

MADISON – The Clean Lakes Alliance today issued a statement in support of the Edgewater development project. The Alliance specifically lauded the project’s plan to improve public access to the waterfront as part of the development.

“Every year, thousands of people enjoy spending time on the water at events sponsored by the Clean Lakes Alliance,” said the Alliance’s president, Don Heilman. “From our annual Clean Lakes Festival to Aquapalooza, we see how much people here love getting out on the water. We are very pleased that the Edgewater development includes plans not only for more public access but also for better public access to the downtown shore of Lake Mendota.”

Heilman also noted that the project includes measures to mitigate storm water run-off and help protect the water quality of Lake Mendota.

“Plans call for minimizing the amount of sediment, oil and grease that enters the lake both during and after construction,” he said. “This will be an improvement over where we are now, because storm water currently runs untreated directly into the lake.”

Heilman predicted that the Edgewater development will help the Alliance heighten public awareness of the need to protect and preserve the water quality of all lakes in Dane County.

“The more people enjoy our lakes, whether that’s through boating or fishing or swimming or simply spending time on them, the more they will see for themselves how vital these incredible natural resources are to our quality of life,” he explained. “We very much hope that the planned Edgewater project becomes reality, because our goal of protecting water quality and improving public access to our lakes is one that this proposal can help us all accomplish.”

# # #


The Clean Lakes Alliance is a not-for-profit organization devoted to protecting and improving the water quality of area lakes, streams and wetlands in the Yahara River Watershed. Its membership is comprised of waterway user groups, civic and business leaders and representatives from state, county and local governments. For more information visit

Lake-o-Gram Volume 1 Issue 4

And….we’re back!

Greetings Lake Fans! Hope everyone had a great summer. We sure did – lots of activities and even more meetings! Our momentum is almost breathtaking. So much to share…so little room. We’ll have more summer fun updates next month.

Sincere thanks for your continued support.

Dane County Water Champion Awards

In early June, the Clean Lakes Alliance hosted an awards reception at the Edgewater Hotel. This is the second year we have hosted the event, and we were happy to be part of the special awards going to Kathleen Falk and Dave Cieslewicz for their support and love of our lakes. Great lake friends, and fun fare – culminating in a sweet thunderstorm rolling across Lake Mendota.

Yahara Pride Farm Conservation Team

With the help of Kevin Connors at Dane County Land and Water Resources, a fantastic group of energetic, progressive farmers has formed a strategic committee to help self-organize the farm community. The team has been meeting monthly since February at our CLA offices and has made a ton of progress in identifying best land-management practices and beginning to lay out an incentive and recognition-based plan that will lead to better farmland conservation.

We are excited to have the following Ag Professionals on the committee: Jeff Endres, Dave Fahey, Will Hensen, Rob Klink, Walter Meinholz, Bob Uphoff

Ex Officio: Kevin Connors, Dave Merritt

City Slickers: Don and James

September Community Board Meeting Highlights

  1. A presentation from InVision, which is donating services to develop not only a business plan for organizing CLA but also a strategic plan for the 2012 launch of the Clean Lakes Initiative.
  2. A report on the 5th Annual Clean Lakes Festival held on August 27 2011, which raised nearly $100,000 and drew a record attendance of 4,000-plus people who enjoyed fun-filled day connecting to our lakes.
  3. News that CLA has secured/requested $155,000 in dedicated funds and commitments to finance an Engineering Report that will prioritize all activities related to a 50-percent phosphorous reduction in the Yahara Watershed.
  4. A presentation on Adaptive Management under consideration at the Madison Metropolitan Sewerage District. This strategy involves meeting the Rock River Basin total maximum daily load (TMDL) by investing in targeted Yahara Watershed improvements rather than spending at least twice as much for a brick-and-mortar addition to deal with problems such as storm-water outfalls.

Strategic Direction Committee

This past spring, the Community Board determined that the best way to identify the direction of the Alliance in terms of watershed work was to pare down to a strategic direction committee and meet more frequently to chart our course.

Committee members:

  • Lloyd Eagan – DNR
  • Kevin Connors – Dane County
  • Sue Jones – Dane County
  • Greg Fries – City of Madison
  • Genesis Steinhorst – City of Madison
  • Lars Barber – Baird
  • John Magnuson – UW Limnology
  • Dave Taylor – MMSD
  • Randy Peterson – Lands’ End
  • Tom Groth – Thermo Fisher
  • Mike Gerner – CLA
  • John Kothe – CLA

Here are the highlights of their progress so far:

  • Set a goal of 50 percent reduction of phosphorus to the lakes.
  • Agreed that the Yahara CLEAN report had the information needed to develop a road map to achieve the goal.
  • Determined that a private engineering firm with Yahara Watershed knowledge would be best suited to create the road map.
  • Created an RFP and sent it to six local/regional firms.
  • Reviewed proposals and presentations and chose Strand Associates as the firm best suited for this task.
  • Set January 15 as the completion date of the road map.

Lots of progress…and lots more work to do. Stay tuned for next steps!

Aquapalooza – A Wet Music Fest!

In late July the Clean Lakes Alliance joined Skipper Bud’s in hosting Aquapalooza near Picnic Point on Lake Mendota. Hundreds of boats and a floating band stage rocked the lake for the 90º afternoon. Raised money. Raised Awareness. Raised a glass to Madison’s lakes.

Clean Lakes Festival - A splash for the whole family!

If you missed the fifth annual Clean Lakes Festival…you missed a great time. A sun-kissed day at Olin Park, with Madison’s beautiful skyline as a backdrop, the Festival was filled with boats and music and food and fun for everyone.

Thousands of lake lovers landed at Olin beach early in the day to enjoy canoes, kayaks and paddleboards from Wingra Boats. They tried their hands at rowing with the Camp Randall Rowing Club. And they rolled around the beach on a log with the Madison Log Rolling Club.

Free Betty Lou cruise rides were provided by the Clean Lakes Alliance all day and into the night.

As afternoon disappeared, the Mad-City Ski Team took to the water for a fun ski show. Then Steez hit the sound stage for the last of four concerts held throughout the day. It’s hard to explain the atmosphere with a great band playing and the by-now glistening city lights at their backs. Madison at its finest.

The event again raised nearly $100,000 from festival proceeds and generous sponsors. Thanks to everyone who had a chance to join us.

See you next year!

CLA in the News

It was hard to miss us on TV, radio and print this summer. We were very honored to kickoff our lake season with a panel on WISC’s “For the Record” show with Neil Heinen. You can watch that show here.

CLA was also featured in the Lakes issue of Madison Magazine in June, in editorials at Wisconsin State Journal in June and July, and lots of coverage before and during the festival. Ads for our website ran all summer long on Channel 3 and

Thank You, Thank You, Thank You!

To our wonderful sponsors, members and donors that have made 2011 a breakthrough year for the Yahara Lakes: Without your support, we would not be able to maintain our momentum and keep the fire lit under this important cause.

The complete list of supporters is updated regularly on the Clean Lakes Alliance website.

New Business Members of the Alliance

  • American Family Insurance
  • Placon Corporation
  • Metcalfe’s Market
  • CG Schmidt
  • CresaPartners
  • Greater Madison Convention & Visitors Bureau
  • HyCite Corporation
  • ATC
  • Bruce Company
  • UW Alumni Association

New Friends of Clean Lakes

  • Natural Heritage Land Trust
  • Friends of Lake Waubesa
  • New Community
  • Board Members
  • Bob Miller, Monona Mayor
  • D. Michael Mucha, Chief Engineer and Director at Madison Metro Sewerage District
  • Katie Crawley, Assistant to the Mayor of Madison
  • Melissa Mallot, Chair, Dane County Lakes and Watershed Commission
  • Bryan Thompson, Lake Kegonsa Representative
  • Jim Welsh, Executive Director, Natural Heritage Land Trust

Contact us Anytime!

Don Heilman

James Tye


The Lake-O-Gram is intended to keep our members and partners up to date with our current efforts. If you have any suggestions to improve our Alliance or this newsletter, please let us know.
Thank you for your support of our lakes.
Striving to return to a clean and thriving watershed.

Tempest Oyster Bar – Sneak Preview, Sip & Sample for the Clean Lakes Alliance

What: A fundraising event for the Clean Lakes Alliance
When: Thursday, August 11, 2011
Where: Tempest Oyster Bar, 120 E. Wilson, Madison, 53703
Time: 5:00 – 8:30 PM

Media Sponsor: Madison Magazine

Cost: $50/person must buy online:

***Please purchase your tickets in advance to make your reservation. Limited to the first 200 tickets.

AquaPalooza: The Campaign for Clean Lakes

This past Sunday before the team’s home show, members of the Mad-City Ski Team collected donations at AquaPalooza to raise money for the Clean Lakes Alliance.

From an article in the Wisconsin State Journal (link):

For the second year in a row, MidLife Crisis played from a barge Sunday just off the shore of Picnic Point on Lake Mendota for boating enthusiasts who took part in a festival sponsored by the Clean Lakes Alliance and SkipperBud’s, a boat dealership in the town of Westport.

“There’s a lot of work that goes into it,” said Breitenbach, 46, who plays bass for the band. “Three or four boats took the band members and equipment from SkipperBud’s clear across the lake.”

The Clean Lakes Alliance is a nonprofit dedicated to improving the lakes through community support, advocacy and education. It’s the first year the organization has partnered with SkipperBud’s.

The Clean Lakes Alliance is collecting funds to reduce phosphorus in the lakes by 50 percent. “Once we do that, you’ll be able to see a visible change in water quality,” said James Tye, the alliance’s development director.

The group has raised more than $300,000 since it was founded five years ago, Tye said.

The alliance has a big, but not impossible, mission, Porreca said. “The efforts of the Clean Lakes Alliance is a step in the right direction. With public awareness and people taking personal responsibility, it could get a lot better.”

Here are some pictures from the event.