Sediment removal project set to start in Spring for Yahara Chain of Lakes

Dane County awarded a $3.25 million contract for Yahara Chain of Lakes sediment removal project. (WMTV)
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DANE COUNTY, Wis. (WMTV) A project to remove built-up sediment in the Yahara Chain of Lakes is expected to start this coming Spring, according to Dane County officials.

Dane Co. Executive Joe Parisi announced on Monday the Dregit Corporation will be awarded a $3.25 million contract for the project.

The first phase to remove the sediment will take place between Lakes Monona and Waubesa.

Parisi said water is flowing faster into the Yahara Chain of Lakes than it goes out. He said it takes more than two weeks for two inches to leave the system. Parisi said sediment accumulation could improve water quality and flow, which can prevent future flooding.

““As climate change rains continue to impact our area, Dane County is committed to mitigating future flooding risks and increasing the flow of water through the Yahara Chain of Lakes,” said Parisi. “We are excited to award this contract and work on this project in 2020. In the new year, we will also begin to form our own sediment removal crew to accelerate future phases of this initiative.”

While sediment movement is a natural process, the accumulation in the chain of lakes is increased by human activity, including urban development, says Parisi. He said it is estimated more than 8.5 million pounds of sediment enter the Yahara River and lakes each year.

In Summer 2018, historic rainfall led to water levels on Lake Monona being eight inches higher than Lake Waubesa, according to county officials. After flooding occurred the county began the “Suck the Muck” initiative. The initiative removes sediment that is up to two feet thick in some sections.

Parisi is including $5 million in his 2020 budget to create a new sediment removal crew and purchase equipment for the county to do its own hydraulic sediment removal. It will add four positions dedicated to removal work in the Land and Water Resources Department.