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Nineteen central Dane County municipalities collaborate on stormwater information and education activities

For more information contact:

Sue Jones (267-0118) or Sharyn Wisniewski (267-8823)
Jim Bertolacini, DNR (275-3201)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 1/24/2003

Issued By: County Executive
View only releases from County Executive
Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk today announced that 19 municipalities have signed an Intergovernmental Agreement on how they will collaborate to inform and educate the public about urban stormwater pollution and prevention issues in central Dane County.

The Agreement has been submitted to the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) as part of the cooperating communities’ stormwater discharge permit application.

The communities agree to jointly fund a half-time LTE Stormwater Education Coordinator who will implement an Information and Education Plan for the five-year stormwater permit period, beginning this summer. This Coordinator will be located in and supervised by the Dane County Land Conservation Department.

Falk said, “Stormwater runoff from urban and rural areas is the single biggest pollutant of our lakes and streams. Controlling it is a high priority with me. Rather than going our own ways, we’re teaming up to involve the public in keeping our lakes, rivers and streams clean. This is also another wonderful example of how municipalities in our county work together to save money and gain efficiencies.”

Communities participating in the group stormwater program and permit are the Cities of Fitchburg, Madison, Monona, Middleton, Sun Prairie, and Verona; the Villages of DeForest, Maple Bluff, McFarland, Shorewood Hills, and Waunakee; the Towns of Burke, Blooming Grove, Madison, Middleton, Westport, and Windsor; Dane County, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. These communities are cooperating on their application for a DNR stormwater permit.

In October 2002, this group was awarded a $100,000 Wisconsin DNR grant to fund several of the Information and Education Plan components, including:
-- a survey to determine the public’s knowledge of urban stormwater pollution issues, and
-- information and education activities which will include a media campaign, a utility bill insert, brochure, and a school outreach campaign.

Dane County submitted the grant application on behalf of the cooperating municipalities.

Jim Bertolacini, Stormwater Management Specialist for the DNR’s South Central Region said, “We continue to be impressed by the level of cooperation demonstrated by these municipalities. Their efforts are serving as a model for other regions in the state and country that need to address the sources of stormwater pollution and give citizens the knowledge and skills they need to improve the quality of our lakes and streams.” Bertolacini is overseeing DNR’s issuance of the stormwater discharge permit to the group of 19 municipalities that submitted their permit application on January 6.

Stormwater, the single largest pollutant of Dane County’s lakes, rivers and streams, is untreated runoff from rainfall and snowmelt. Rain water or melting snow that washes off parking lots and other hard surfaces picks up a smorgasbord of pollutants –oil, grease, chemicals, pesticides and herbicides, pet waste, sediment – and carries it directly to lakes, streams and wetlands, leading to algae blooms and damage to sensitive aquatic ecosystems. The runoff can also cause bank and channel erosion.

Because runoff is often warmer than lakes and streams, it can raise their temperatures and degrade fish habitat, including cold water fish hatcheries like the county’s trout streams.

“That’s why this education component is so important,” said Falk. “People here in Dane County love our lakes and streams. As they better understand how important it is to control stormwater, they’ll be even more supportive of efforts to limit runoff.”

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