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Dane County’s 2019 Budget Includes $18M For Flood Recovery, Lake Health

Budget Includes Money To Improve Flow Through Chain Of Lakes

Flooding on East Washington Avenue in Madison slows the morning commute
Flooding on East Washington Avenue in Madison slows the morning commute, Friday Aug. 24. Jenny Peek/WPR

After historic floods caused huge damage earlier this year, Dane County has included $18 million for flood recovery and lake health in its 2019 budget.

“Our lakes are critical to Dane County in many ways,” Dane County Executive Joe Parisi said. “And with the changes we’re seeing climate-wise, and the issues that we had this summer, it was imperative that we put together a package that allows us to get in there and start addressing the needs as soon as possible.”

The budget includes $9 million for conservation and stormwater management acquisitions. One of the goals is to improve water flow from lake Mendota through lakes Monona, Waubesa and Kegonsa. The budget also includes money to analyze constriction points along the chain of lakes, which slow the flow of water.

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“It takes 2 inches of rain two weeks to get through the entire chain,” Parisi said, “And when you have a 15-inch rain all at once, just north of Lake Mendota, that backs up the system.”

Some of the problem, Parisi said, is created by increased development throughout the county.

“We’re seeing an additional 3.2 billion gallons of runoff into our lake system due to development,” he said.

The budget includes $200,000 to raise Highway W in the town of Christiana — nearby Cambridge — which was flooded several times last summer.

Climate change models have shown that Dane County residents can expect more heavy rainfall events like last summer in the future.

“For better or worse, this is something we’re going to have to continue to monitor and something we’ll have to continue to invest in moving forward,” Parisi said.

The budget also includes:

  • $2.5 million for the “Suck the Muck” sediment removal program
  • $2 million for the Yahara River flow improvement fund and analysis of the water level and flow
  • $1.35 million for highway and bridge improvements
  • $1 million for the flood restoration fund for parks and trails
  • $1 million for storm water controls
  • $750,000 for the Dane County conservation reserve program
  • $500,000 for two new weed harvesters, a lake debris barge crane and staff
  • $500,000 for streambank restoration
  • $275,000 for wetland restoration and analysis of the Yahara River flow and lake level
  • $308,000 for sandbagging machines, sandbags, flood barriers, pumps and generators
  • $110,000 for a Sheriff’s airboat, 911 web reporting and emergency housing