Responding to unprecedented flooding last summer, a Dane County Board task force is ready to begin studying the issue — even as ice and snow cover area waterways. Lake flooding was one component of the flooding caused by the intense rain events of last summer. The fear is that climate change will bring even more heavy storm events and less settled weather patterns into the future.

The Yahara Chain of Lakes Lake Level Task Force met for the first time on Feb. 4 at the Lyman F. Anderson Agriculture & Conservation Center and again on Feb. 11 at the City County Building.

The 13-member panel – which includes County Board Supervisors, public works officials, environmental leaders and other stakeholders – will continue to meet over the next two months, with a final meeting scheduled for April 1. The agendas and meeting dates are available on the county’s website.

The task force reviewed the analysis of a team of technical experts at its first meeting, as well as heard findings of a previously completed storm water advisory group report. The technical report, released earlier this month, can be found on the webpage dedicated to the work of the Task Force:

At subsequent meetings, the task force will review the technical workgroup-developed scenarios for adaptation and mitigation, hold a public hearing, and develop short and long-term recommendations. These policy recommendations will be forwarded to the county board for further review and action.

“We believe in science in Dane County, and we are fortunate to have a depth of expertise available to help guide our approach to managing lake levels,” said Supervisor Michele Ritt (District 18, Madison) who is the Chair of the Environment, Agriculture, and Natural Resources Committee, as well as a member of the task force.

The county is responsible for maintaining water levels for the four major lakes in Dane County — Lake Mendota, Lake Monona, Lake Waubesa and Lake Kegonsa — mainly through operation of the Tenney Park Dam.

“The level of the lakes is directly related to the flow of water into and through the chain of lakes,” said Task Force Member Pam Porter, who also serves as the Chair of the County’s Lakes and Watershed Commission. “Our challenge is to review the facts and all the evidence carefully, especially in light of what we now know can happen. This is a big issue that affects thousands of residents in Dane County and beyond.”

Other County Board Supervisors serving on the task force include Chuck Erickson (District 13, Madison); Sheila Stubbs (District 23, Madison); Dave Ripp (District 29, Waunakee); Patrick Miles (District 34, McFarland): Tanya Buckingham (District 24, Monona) and Yogesh Chawla (District 6, Madison).

Public comments with recommendations for the task force to consider will be accepted through Friday, March 8. Public comments must include a name and address in order to be considered. Names and comments may be posted online and/or available as open records. Comments should be emailed to or mailed to: Dane County Land & Water Resources Department Lake Levels Task Force Public Comment, 5201 Fen Oak Dr., Room 208, Madison WI 53718.

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