Seal of Dane County County of Dane
County Executive's Office

County Executive, Madison Mayor Partner to Bring Safe, Clean Swimming to Local Lakes

August 29, 2019
Ariana Vruwink (608) 267-8823; Hannah Mohelnitzky (608) 242-6003
County Executive

Dane County, City of Madison “Pool” Budget Dollars to Install Network of Clean Beach Treatment Systems at Madison Beaches in Coming Years

Dane County and the City of Madison have agreed to a five year program to make swimming in our lakes safer, County Executive Joe Parisi and Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway announced today. The two made the announcement at Warner Beach, the site of where the first of several new "Clean Beach Treatment Systems" will be installed. 

The county built similar systems at Lake Mendota and Goodland County Parks in recent years, effectively eliminating beach closure days and providing a safe area for clean lake swimming. The systems use a barrier to set aside a pool of clean treated water within the lake. These systems pump and treat 144,000 gallons of that water per day, keeping algae blooms and e-coli out of the areas designated for safe swimming. The corridors fend off algae during even peak periods of nearby blooms, preserving a safe spot for families to enjoy a day at the beach.

“Our lakes are for everyone to enjoy and while the bigger work continues to reduce what causes toxic algae blooms and improve the health of the lakes we love, we want to make sure families can get out and safely enjoy these waters once again,” Parisi said. “Projects like these are an extension of our equity work – providing safe, free fun across our community and encouraging kids to get outside,” he added.

“Too often algae blooms close our beaches at the peak of the summer swim season. This partnership with Dane County to install Clean Beach Treatment Systems will keep key city beaches open most of the summer for families to enjoy,” said Mayor Rhodes-Conway.  “We will, of course, continue to work to remove phosphorous and other pollutants so that in the long term, all our lakes will be enjoyable all the time.” 

Under the city/county partnership spearheaded by Parisi and Rhodes-Conway, Dane County will fund capital costs associated with purchasing and installing the systems while the city will pay for the maintenance and operations of the clean beach treatment systems. The first system will be installed next summer at Warner Beach. Additional systems will be installed over the next several years at:

Tenney Park Beach
Esther Park Beach
James Madison Park
Vilas Park

Prior to installation of clean beach systems at Lake Mendota and Goodland County Parks, those beaches were closed on average 25 days each year. Since the first system was installed in May of 2016, there has been one single beach closure at Lake Mendota County Park in nearly four swimming seasons since the project debuted. That happened as a result of the smell of a nearby algae bloom that never penetrated the closed off safe swimming corridor. The two systems in use currently cost around $100,000 to build. Construction of the clean beach system at Warner is expected to begin next spring and be complete in time of the next swimming season.

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