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Schultz, Jennifer (ed.) / Wisconsin engineer
Volume 103, Number 4 (September 1999)

Waite, Nicole Angela
Go ahead, dive in,   pp. 10-13

Page 10

Go Ahead, Dive In
By Nicole Angela Wai te
E erx timie I return to Madison, I in-
illediatel need to seet the lake. Beau-
tiful Mendota Vxas one of the major
factors in mv decision to attend UW-Madi-
soni When we passed it oin the ca mpus tour
at S( OAiR, the lake looked like a cool blue ha-
x ein, comitplete with people in sailboats. Early
iil inl  freshmilan year, I wvas invited to go
swxillming in the lake, and my first thought
Was to juIst cix e in - until I saxw it uip ciose. A
thickgretn tilm wascoxeting the water, and
ImyV exc itemlIenIt Cluic klx tcLI ned to disgust. Did
people really swim in this water? Was it safe?
three sources: soil runoff from const
sites, residential fertilizers and gra
pings that get into the water.
The reason Madison lakes have sucl
algae problem is due to lack of publi
I-;<;  , , 1
ataion abotit it. Ilai(isoniriiis W tii peTTCCt
suburban yards don't know they are the cul-
prits: fertilizers used on lawns and grass clip-
pings are two main contributors of the nci-
trients algae need to survive. Many people
who live on the isthmus between lakes
Mendota and Monona don't realize that the
sewxer gratings on their street drain into the
lake, like many of the sewers on campus. Un-
ciumip nio c11t0iL  ( i
to lake." As part of a $22 mil-
lion project to improve envirlol-
mental quality, Madison has adopted a strict
county regulation to control construction
practices and reduice soil runcoff from indus-
trial plants and construction sites, but it re-
mains a mystery as to hoxw soion the prob-
lem of residential pollution will be ad-
A thick, green film was
covering the water, and my
excitement quickly turned to
I grewx Up on the Mississippi River, where
the swift Current and unfavorable nutrient
condititons ketp algae ftrou giowing, so I was
completely mortified by this lake full of
green gook. At the same time though, I was
int iguted. I hav e spent the past two summers
in Madison, and it seems like half the time
the lake is clad in Irish color. As it turns out,
mx estimation wxas correct  according to
studies conldu1tc1td in the Yaha ra Watershed,
algae blooms occur on11'5(, of summer days
I a kes MenIoILa, MonoLIa, Winglra, Waubesa
and Kegonsa, along wxith countless streams
and creeks, make uLp the Yahara WAatershed.
I he answei s to maxiv of my questions about
the lake caln he found at the UW-Madison
( enter for I imLnolo' (C l I ). According to
their we bsite, h ttp./ limnloloex.wisc.edtu,
the ( I l xx as esta1hl tshlin IulxI982tostUdx
inlllild 1i eshl xatet, such as Lake Mendota
and I ake Supt rior. Almost one hundred
Years ago, litmnologx, the consetvatioin of
ua 1.1,ti, t esiirc es was invxented by Ex  A
Bit ge anid ( haneV x udax here at UW-Madi-
oil A\lgae has eeti at . main foc us of the stud-
ies condUcted bx the CF. 131Bue-green algae
(k:\alllophxceae), the species plagueincg the
Miadison lakes, thrives beca use of two im-
p1(r1tnt iti teilnts -phosphorus alnd nitro-
genl. IPllospla tes and nitrates come from
Despite the algae in the water, Lake Mendota is still safe to swim in.
I '
WI &_Eff
/l}  s[(ll\llle 1)''

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