Second phase of Yahara River dredging underway

Dane County, Wisconsin, has officially begun the second phase of its Yahara Chain of Lakes Sediment Removal Project.

According to the officials, the county’s “Dragon Dredge” is now in the water, continuing 11-mile sediment removal initiative aimed to improve management of lake levels during high water periods.

The dredging project which kicked off last week is taking place between Lake Waubesa and Lower Mud Lake. The County hopes to remove approximately 52,000 cubic yards (or more than 4,000 dump truck loads) of sediment in the project’s second phase to help improve water flow, flood storage capacity, and fish and wildlife habitat in the Yahara Lakes.

“We are excited to kick off this next phase of our flood mitigation project in the Yahara Chain of Lakes,” said County Executive Parisi. “When complete, this 11-mile sediment removal initiative will help increase the flow of water through the Yahara Chain of Lakes and improve the management of lake levels during high water periods.”

Between Lake Waubesa and Lower Mud Lake, Dane County is using its newly acquired “Dragon Dredge”, first unveiled in March 2021, to help move water through the Yahara Chain of Lakes at a steadier clip and help mitigate the risk of flooding. Parisi included $5 million in his 2020 budget to purchase this new equipment and create four staff positions to carry out the job.

Officials expect that about half of the work will be completed between Lake Waubesa and Lower Mud Lake by the end of 2021, with the other half expected to reach completion in 2022.

“Work between Lake Kegonsa and Highway B, the other section of river covered in phase two, is currently under process for bidding. Dane County hopes to have mobilization start this fall, with dredging kicking off in 2022,” the county officials said.

The sediment removal project in the Yahara Lakes system will take place in five phases, with each phase carried out as Dane County secures permitting. In May 2020, Dane County kicked off the first phase of the project between Lakes Monona and Waubesa. The County removed approximately 40,000 cubic yards—or more than 3,000 dump truck loads—of sediment before the $3.25 million effort concluded last fall.

Photo: Dane County