Reducing Phosphorous in the Lake Mendota Watershed

Mike Sweitzer-Beckman Care for the Earth, Natural Resources 1 Comment

This morning, I had the wonderful opportunity to attend the Yahara Lakes Community Breakfast, sponsored by the Clean Lakes Alliance. There were a thousand people in attendance, from business leaders to elected officials to people who enjoy using the four lakes in the Madison area. Everyone there was concerned about the water quality in our lakes.

An article in the Wisconsin State Journal describes in detail the Clean Lakes Alliance’s ambitious plan to reduce the amount of phosphorous in the Lake Mendota watershed by 50% in ten years. Holy Wisdom Monastery is doing its part to be a part of the solution in reducing the phosphorous pollutants that end up in Lake Mendota, which is just across the street from our property. This map shows where Holy Wisdom Monastery (designated by the red pin A) is located in relation to the four lakes in the Madison area:

Surrounding Holy Wisdom Monastery are a golf course, agricultural land, and a new 600 acre development that is slated to be completed in the next 20 years. The monastery property provides an important buffer between all of this and the Lake Mendota watershed.

Prairie restoration, rain barrels, and rooftop gardens are part of our solution to helping reduce phosphorous levels in the lakes. A prairie naturally absorbs pollutants and diverts them from ending up in the lakes. The monastery has restored 100 acres of formerly agricultural land to prairie in the past two decades. Once phosphorous is in the lakes, it helps cultivate a blue algae that smells really bad, and is bad for the ecosystem of plants and animals that make their homes in the lakes.

The phosphorous runs downhill from Lake Mendota: 60% of the phosphorous from Lake Monona comes from Lake Mendota, and 80% of the phosphorous in Lake Waubesa comes from Lake Monona. This past summer’s drought will greatly help reduce the phosphorous that ends up in the lakes simply because of less runoff from rainwater. However, we can’t rely on droughts to reduce the runoff. A restored prairie is part of the long-term vision the sisters have of being environmental stewards in the Madison community, directly contributing to the efforts to reduce the phosphorous levels in the Lake Mendota watershed.

There are ways that you can help be a part of the prairie restoration efforts at Holy Wisdom Monastery. Learn how you can help with prairie restoration efforts. Donations are also welcome to help fund the costs of doing prairie restoration, including equipment for the removal of invasive species, conducting prairie burns, and purchasing native plant seeds.

Comments 1

  1. The fact that there are people out there working outside of their fields to improve the lakes, and to REALLY improve them is SO great! We need more people to care and take action. It can be really easy! Thanks for doing your part!

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