Nearshore Construction + Heavy Rain = Sediment Plume in Lake Mendota

We interrupt this “Fish Fry Day” to bring you breaking news. Or, well, not news, but a timely example of the challenges urban water bodies like Madison’s lakes face on a daily basis.
On his way in to work this rainy morning, CFL graduate student (and “David Buoy‘s handler”), Luke WInslow, snapped a few pictures of runoff from the Memorial Union construction as it headed downhill and ended up in the choppy Lake Mendota waters, creating a sediment plume along the shoreline.

Runoff from the Memorial Union construction project enters Lake Mendota after a rainy Friday morning. Photo: Luke Winslow
Runoff from the Memorial Union construction project enters Lake Mendota after a rainy Friday morning. Photo: Luke Winslow

While not the main source of pollution in Lake Mendota (that dubious distinction goes to agricultural runoff), construction sites do play a substantial role in adding what’s called “non-point source” pollution to our lakes. In fact, they must obtain storm water permits from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources for any work near aquatic ecosystems. Let’s hope the construction crew jumps on this quickly before anything else starts leaving the construction site and ends up in our lakes.
More photos below. (“Fish Fry Day” will resume next week!)
Water loaded with dirt and debris from the Memorial Union construction site heads downhill toward Lake Mendota. Heavy rain events lead to all sorts of runoff problems and construction sites are recognized as a leading "non-point source" form of pollution. Photo: Luke Winslow
Water loaded with dirt and debris from the Memorial Union construction site heads downhill toward Lake Mendota. Heavy rain events lead to all sorts of runoff problems and construction sites are recognized as a leading “non-point source” form of pollution. Photo: Luke Winslow

Another shot of the construction runoff heading for the lake. Photo: Luke Winslow
Another shot of the construction runoff heading for the lake. Photo: Luke Winslow

Wind-whipped waters push the sediment plume out along the shoreline of Lake Mendota. Photo: Luke Winslow
Wind-whipped waters push the sediment plume out along the shoreline of Lake Mendota. Photo: Luke Winslow

 
 

2 thoughts on “Nearshore Construction + Heavy Rain = Sediment Plume in Lake Mendota”

  1. A lot more than sediment went into the lake. I went for a swim at the union pier this weekend and a large amount of construction debris made its way into the lake.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *