Starting Suck The Muck

As a kid growing up in Upstate New York, dredging was a common local political topic. At the time, New York State was working with General Electric to get them to dredge the Hudson River to remove the dangerous polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) that were deposited in the river from the 1940's to the 1970's. The industrial pollution left a huge mark on the Hudson's ecological landscape, not to mention the health of local residents - PCBs are considered a human carcinogen. The Environmental Protection Agency ordered General Electric to pay for the dredging of that PCB laden sediment, and the project was completed in 2015. While there's still debate over whether or not the work is done, there is no doubt that this was the largest project of it's type done in the United States.

It's a certain kind of fate to see dredging back in my newspapers in my first year as District 11 County Board Supervisor. Today, County Executive Joe Parisi kicked off the "Suck the Muck" project designed to clean up our phosphorous laden lakes. The "muck" to be removed is the legacy sediment in the feeder streams that feed Dane County's lakes. Hopefully, in conjuction with continued collaboration with our agricultural neighbors, and education of urban residents on storm water and construction site management, we'll begin to see cleaner lakes, fish, and neighbors.

“Even if all new agricultural runoff were immediately blocked from entering Dane County waterways and lakes — an unlikely event, officials say — the Yahara River lakes would still be fighting an overabundance of phosphorus for decades because of muck in the tributaries.”

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