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Dane County to spend more than $18M to fight flooding

In response to the devastating floods seen last month, Dane County officials announced plans on Tuesday to spend more than $18 million to help local municipalities repair the recent damage and prevent future destruction.

Officials’ main goal is to move water more quickly through Dane County’s chain of lakes – Mendota, Monona, Waubesa and Kegonsa, – as well as the Yahara River. To that end, they are proposing not only to make repairs but also curtail the amount of stormwater entering local waterways and buy equipment that can be used to lessen the damage caused by future floods.

Of the more than $18 million local officials are proposing, $2.5 million would be used to find pinch points in the Yahara River where water flow is likely being constricted. The river will also be dredged, and the county will put money into weed-cutting and debris-removal equipment and inspect bridge crossings that might collect debris and slow water flows. Separately, the budget proposal would put $75,000 aside to analyze lake-level scenarios to see which are least likely to lead to harmful flooding.

As for repairs, the budget would put $1 million toward parks and trails damaged in the flooding. A separate $500,000 would be used to prevent erosion and provide healthy habitats to fish and other wildlife.

Elsewhere, the budget proposal would put $9 million toward securing properties that will help the county reduce stormwater runoff. Local officials estimate that runoff from streets, parking lots and rooftops that were built in the past 20 years was to blame for about half of the recent flooding.

The same part of the budget would set aside $750,00 to pay farmers and property owners to convert parts of their land into prairies and grasslands, which tend to hold rainwater where it lands.

Finally, the county plans to buy three more sand-bagging machines, bringing its total to five, and put $200,000 toward raising County Highway W in the town of Christiana. That route was underwater on various occasions this summer.

The budget would use $80,000 to buy the Dane County Sheriff’s Office an airboat watercraft, one of which was used this year to help residents evacuate the village of Mazomanie. And $25,000 would be used to provide emergency housing for people with special needs when they need to be gotten out of harm’s way quickly.

About Dan Shaw, dan.shaw@dailyreporter.com

Dan Shaw is the associate editor at The Daily Reporter. He can be reached at dan.shaw@dailyreporter.com or at 414-225-1807.

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