A meeting on Monday at the Roxbury Town Hall brought together residents and representatives to discuss possible solutions to the flooding problems in the area of Crystal, Mud, and Fish Lakes.
The meeting was standing room only as residents shared their experiences with flooding, and asked questions about solutions presented by the DNR. Representatives from Columbia and Dane Counties, the Towns of Roxbury and West Point, and the lake association also shared their views of the flooding issues.
Staff from the DNR shared multiple ways to potentially address the flooding, ranging from increased pumping, to creating options like storm sewers and culverts to redirect water.
“They all involve either pumping additional water out of these lakes, or ditching and piping and discharging to different locations,” said Mark Aquino, DNR South Central Region Secretary’s Director.
“The Department of Natural Resources’ role today was to be a technical consultant and resource so they understood all the regulatory requirements associated with each one of those options for consideration, as well as developing some very broad cost estimates for each of the options,” Aquino said.
Some options discussed included increasing pump capacity from Crystal Lake to Roxbury Creek, changing pump capacity from Crystal Lake to Lake Wisconsin, placing culverts on top of existing roadway, or utilizing storm sewers.
According to the Dane County Executive’s Chief of Staff, there has also been discussion about potential buyouts.
“Dane County has been contacted by a number of property owners along Fish Lake who are interested in having their properties being bought out, realizing climate change rains and flooding are unfortunately the new normal and the lakes they live by have no natural outlet for drainage,” said a statement from Joshua Wescott, Chief of Staff for the Dane County Executive’s Office. “Dane County has expressed a willingness to use money from its budget to assist with these buyouts to help owners re-locate and will look to partner with the state on this effort. These negotiations are progressing and the first buyouts will likely occur this fall.”
Many residents voiced the challenges they have faced in dealing with this flooding for years. A business owner on Crystal Lake said he has been negatively impacted financially due to the water.
“All of that water came all at once and it flooded out our beach, it flooded out our swimming pool,” said Steve Bodenschatz, owner of Crystal Lake RV Park and Campground. “It’s had effect on our sewage treatment plant, we’re faced with replacing that now. Then this summer several RV units had to be evacuated and pulled out of the water, we lost about 50 sites out of our 270 sites. Certain mobile homes that were there as year round residents they had to find alternate shelter.”
Sen. Jon Erpenbach said now, the four local governments of Dane County, Columbia County, the Town of Roxbury, and the Town of West Point must work together to determine how best to move forward before any solution can be implemented.