First phase of sediment removal project in Dane Co. lakes begins

Sediment removal equipment being unloaded. (Source: Dane County)
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) -- Dane County is County is taking another step in flood mitigation efforts after historic rainfall and flooding in 2018.

Dredging equipment is now in the water between Lakes Monona and Waubesa to remove 40,000-cubic yards of sediment. That’s about 3,000 dump truck loads.

Dane County Executive Joe Parisi announced the beginning of the first phase of the Yahara Chain of Lakes Sediment Removal Project on Thursday.

“Climate change will continue to bring heavy rains to our area,” said Parisi. “With this initiative, we hope to improve the flow of water through the Yahara Lakes system and help mitigate future flooding risk.”

Currently, water comes into the chain of lakes faaster than it goes out. County officials say it takes more than two weeks for two inches of rain to leave the lake system.

While sediment moves naturally, the accumulation in the Yahara River and lakes is increased by human activity and urban development. Parisi said more than 8.5 million pounds of sediment enters the system from urban runoff.

Dredgit Corporation was awarded a $3.25 million contract for the first phase of the sediment removal process.

The goal is to complete the majority of the dredging by late summer.

Parisi included $5 million in his 2020 budget for the county to create its own sediment removal crew and purchase equipment for the project.