Protecting Our Water
At MGE, we value our natural resources. We are committed to going beyond regulations to protect our local lakes, rivers and streams.
Yahara Watershed Academy
Partnering with Clean Lakes Alliance, we helped take the Yahara Watershed Academy from a first-year pilot to full implementation. Under the 2017 pilot, a group of 23 students learned about the science and policies that underpin land and water sustainability.
The Academy serves as a model for educating and empowering area leaders who are interested in spearheading local-level action. The goal is to develop a community of "watershed captains" who will actively engage partners in promoting healthy lakes.
Another way we support clean lakes is through Yahara WINs (watershed improvement network). This collaborative water cleanup effort began as a pilot and expanded into a 20-year program to reduce phosphorus in our watershed. Yahara WINs:
- Is a program spearheaded by the Madison Metropolitan Sewerage District, Dane County, MGE, municipalities and others.
- Focuses on phosphorus pollution from large nonpoint source contributors like farms, construction sites and urban runoff. More traditional approaches that focused on point sources, like sewerage treatment and power plants, have had limited success.
- Evaluates strategies like winter crop cover and soil stabilization.
This innovative phosphorus-control program is one of the most flexible and affordable approaches nationwide. The program prevented more than 50,000 pounds of phosphorus from reaching surface waters in 2019. Learn more at Yahara WINs.
As we build new facilities, stormwater management is part of our planning and design. Our training facility in Fitchburg has a system that ensures there is no increase in runoff resulting from the development. The stormwater system also was designed to aid the nearby wetland habitat.
We also have a stormwater filtration system in our downtown Madison headquarters parking lot that cleans the water before it drains into Lake Monona. Built in 2003, the system was one of the first installations of its kind in Wisconsin. It filters out many contaminants that normally run off paved surfaces during rainstorms, helps reduce toxins that degrade water quality and reduces nutrients that promote weed and algae growth in our lakes and rivers.
The U.S. Geological Survey monitored and found the system to be highly effective, reducing petroleum compounds by 48%, sediment by 39%, phosphorus by 36%, solids by 32%, copper by 23% and zinc by 8%.
We follow best practices to remove water from underground utility vaults. Our dewatering compliance plan ensures that all water pumped from vaults into the storm sewers is filtered prior to discharge to keep sediment-laden water out of the area water bodies.
We are committed to implementing proper erosion-control methods at all work sites. This minimizes the likelihood of soil being washed out of a site. We track permits and inspections and have a committee that reviews new regulations, field techniques and technologies to ensure we effectively manage our erosion-control strategies.