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County Executive's Office

Dane County Expands Lake Weed Eating Fleet to Cut More Phosphorus Out of Local Lakes

July 29, 2014
Joshua Wescott, Office of the County Executive, (608) 266-9069
County Executive

County Executive Parisi Showcases New Equipment to Keep Waters Clean


Dane County’s growing fleet of lake weed cutters has removed thousands of tons of weeds and 1500 hundred pounds of phosphorus from local waters this summer, County Executive Joe Parisi announced today.


Parisi made the announcement along Monona Bay, with a team of weed cutters and new lake weed removal equipment the county is displaying for the first time this summer.


“These harvesters look more like a floating version of a farm combine and thanks to their operators, are incredibly effective workhorses,” Parisi said.  “Removing these weeds means waters that are easier to navigate, better outdoor recreation for families, and healthier lakes.”


Parisi noted that through last week, Dane County’s  ten weed cutters had removed over 2,600 tons of weeds - - 578 harvester loads - - from our lakes and the Yahara River this summer.


Dane County’s Land and Water Resources Department staffs and maintains these lake weed eating machines at a cost of nearly $600,000 a year. Staff use five elevators to run the weeds harvested out of the water and onto county trucks waiting on dry land for disposal in gardens as compost or other uses in county parks. 


Fuel trucks keep the fleet going, ensuring a well run operation and the County Executive and County Board put dollars into this year’s budget to purchase two new fuel trucks and a new weed hauling truck at a cost of $120,000.


“As a kayaker and occasional angler, I definitely understand the value of having fewer weeds to contend with on the water," said Rebecca Power, Chair of the Dane County Lakes and Watershed Commission. “Weed harvesters are an important part of Dane County’s comprehensive strategy to care for our lakes, as they are critical for removing excess phosphorus that is already in the lakes and for making boating, fishing, and other lake-based recreation more enjoyable.”   



The weed cutters harvest weeds and plants between 4-5 feet under the surface, making it easier for people to fish, swim, and boat in our lakes.  The weed cutters will stay on the waters through the end of summer, and work throughout the Yahara Chain of Lakes and the Yahara River.


“Lakes are such a key part of the quality of life we’ve come to enjoy as Dane County residents.  That’s why cleaning them up both through preventative measures like manure digesters and day to day through our weed harvesting program are so important,” Parisi concluded. 




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