Dane County’s 13 aquatic plant harvesters will aid county efforts to mitigate flooding in the Yahara Chain of Lakes in Wisconsin. Dane County’s total operating budget for lake weed management in 2019 is $773,400 – a more than 53 percent increase in funds compared to last year.
Harvesting of aquatic plants occurs over an area of 485 acres of water and 64 miles of shoreline in the Yahara lakes. Following last August’s heavy rains, a team of Dane County aquatic plant harvesters worked the river corridor and successfully doubled the flow of water moving south out of the Yahara Chain of Lakes. Last year, 1,847 loads of aquatic plants were removed, resulting in around 8,496 tons of material leaving the system. About 691 loads (or 3,178 tons) were removed for flood mitigation.
In addition to flood mitigation, aquatic plant removal can also cut down on the amount of phosphorus found in the Yahara Chain of Lakes, which can increase the frequency and extent of hazardous algae blooms. About 4,851 pounds of phosphorus was removed from the chain of lakes system in 2018. It’s estimated that about one pound of phosphorus can produce up to 500 pounds of algae.