County Executive Kathleen Falk and Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz To Host Presentation by Expert on Limiting Phosphorus in Lakes Expert on Limiting Phosphorus in Lakes

September 24, 2003
Sharyn Wisniewski (608) 267-8823, office of the county executive Melanie Conklin (608) 266-4611, office of the mayor
County Executive

John M. Barten was influential in passing local and state phosphorus control legislation in Minnesota Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk and Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz today announced they are co-hosting the local appearance of a water-quality expert whose research and testimony was influential in Minnesota’s legislation to limit the amount of phosphorous in lawn fertilizers. High levels of phosphorus in the lakes, caused by runoff from lawns treated with fertilizers, causes excessive algae growth. John M. Barten, water quality manager for the Three Rivers Park District (formerly Hennepin County Parks) in the Twin Cities area of Minnesota, will be speaking in Madison on Monday, October 6, 2003 at 6:30 p.m., in Room 201 of the City County Building, 210 Martin Luther King, Jr., Blvd. The presentation is free and open to the public. In July, Falk announced her county-wide initiative to phase out phosphorus-containing lawn fertilizer. She has requested the Dane County Lakes and Watershed Commission to develop and work with the County Board to pass an ordinance that would apply in each town, village and city within the County. In his capital budget, Cieslewicz proposed expanding the city street sweeping program in neighborhoods around the lake to decrease runoff and improve lake water quality. Earlier this month an ordinance to restrict phosphorus in lawn fertilizers was introduced to the Madison Common Council. Ald. Gregory Markle is the chief sponsor of the ordinance, which is currently under review by city committees. “We love our lakes. Excessive phosphorus turns our lakes green and limits our enjoyment of them. We can change that,” said Falk. “Our lakes are a crucial asset that contributes to our high quality of life here,” said Cieslewicz. “Limiting the phosphorus flowing into our lakes will make a real, measurable difference.” Barten will be speaking with members of city and county committees and staff that are or will be acting on ordinance proposals to limit the amount of phosphorus in lawn fertilizers. Barten has conducted extensive research on the quality of runoff water from lawns and golf courses, and was influential in the passage of local ordinances and state law limiting phosphorus in lawn fertilizer in Minnesota. His presentation will address his research results from Minnesota, as well as his observations about the legislative development and passage experiences there. Fertilizers normally contain a mix of nutrients, including nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. Rainwater runoff from lawns treated with fertilizers flows to storm drainage systems and into the lakes where the phosphorus causes excessive algae growth, and decreases water clarity, often turning lakes green. Decaying algae also depletes oxygen in the water, so that fish can no longer thrive. Since 1989, Barten has served as water quality manager for Hennepin parks in the suburban Twin Cities area of Minnesota. He works with municipalities and watershed management organizations to mitigate the impacts of development on the quality of the 20 lakes in the park system. Trained as an aquatic biologist and chemist, Barten’s early career years were spent as a limnologist working in Minnesota, where he developed and implemented lake restoration programs, and assisted municipalities and watershed management organizations with water quality management planning. # # #