Phosphorus reduction in the Yahara Watershed

Yahara WINS and partners welcome new members and prepare for phosphorus reduction efforts in 2018.

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Kaci Baillies of Dane County Land and Water Resources collects water samples as part of cooperative monitoring efforts supported by Yahara WINS.

MADISON, WIS. DEC 18, 2017 -- The Yahara Watershed Improvement Network has welcomed the Town of Burke as its 24th member municipality and is preparing for additional phosphorus reduction efforts in 2018.

The 24 member municipalities are joined by numerous other partners that are committed to working together to reduce the amount of phosphorus entering streams, rivers and lakes in the Yahara Watershed. While 2017 results are still being compiled, during 2016 the collective actions of Yahara WINS members and partners prevented more than 29,000 pounds of phosphorus from reaching area surface waters -- more than 30 percent of the total reduction of 96,000 pounds per year needed over the next 20 years.

The addition of the Town of Burke along with continued participation by other communities and stakeholders allows for continued expansion of efforts by both urban and rural partners in the year ahead. The 2018 budget totals $1.5 million, up from $1.09 million in 2017. The planned expenditures build on past successes by further reducing phosphorus loads to streams, rivers and lakes throughout the Yahara Watershed and focusing on water quality monitoring.

"We're pleased to welcome the Town of Burke and we are excited about the growing momentum behind Yahara WINS," said Kathy Lake, president of the Yahara WINS executive committee. "We have many initiatives in the works to further reduce phosphorus that will benefit the environment and the economy."

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Yahara WINS and its partners fund a variety of stormwater management and agricultural practices to reduce the amount of phosphorus reaching the Yahara Watershed.

Key activities in 2018 will include evaluation of manure composting and management under a project being advanced by Yahara Pride Farms. The work builds on an earlier project and focuses on composting "solid" manure or bedding pack. This type of manure typically comprises 20 to 25 percent of the total manure generated by a dairy farm and through composting, farmers are able to better manage storage and target applications to times when manure is less susceptible to runoff.

Other critical efforts for 2018 include water quality monitoring conducted in partnership with the U.S. Geological Survey and the Rock River Coalition. These efforts are needed to evaluate the impacts of land-based phosphorus reduction efforts. Madison Metropolitan Sewerage District serves as the contract laboratory and more than 3,000 water quality samples have been collected and analyzed dating to 2012.

About Yahara Wins
The Yahara Watershed Improvement Network, known as Yahara WINS, is a groundbreaking initiative to achieve clean water goals for the Yahara Watershed. In this effort, community partners led by Madison Metropolitan Sewerage District are collaborating on a strategy called watershed adaptive management in which all sources of phosphorus in the watershed work together to reduce nutrient runoff. The work began in 2012 and following a pilot effort has now transitioned to the full-scale project. The 20 year project offers the most cost-effective way to achieve water quality goals, providing a savings to watershed residents estimated at $13.5 million per year. More than 300 farmers and 24 communities are participating.

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