Yahara Portal

Explore the legacy and future of the Yahara Lakes and Watershed

Ways to help our watershed

Clean Streets = Clean Lakes

Rain washes pollution to the lakes via storm drains, which are direct conduits for pollution from the streets to the lakes. To keep pollution out of the lakes, keep pollution out of the streets.

  • Adopt a storm drain and keep it clear of leaves, grass clippings, garbage, waste, oil, pesticides and fertilizer. Find out more about Storm Drain Stenciling, and get a kit to stencil a message on your drain(s) that says “Dump no waste; drains to lake.” 
  • Test your soil before applying fertilizer so you don’t waste money on something you don’t need. If your soil test shows you need fertilizer, be sure to sweep up any that lands on the sidewalk, driveway or street and put it back on the turf. Dane County UWEX provides soil test kit information here
  • Pick up after your pets. Pets create more waste than you think. Click here to calculate how much “urban manure” your dog creates. 
  • Wash your car on the grass so that the wash water soaks into grass instead of running to the street gutter. 

Rain Where It Lands, Soil in Its Place = Clean Lakes

To reduce pollution to the lakes, capture rain and prevent soil from washing away.

  • Plant a rain garden. At a minimum, aim your downspouts to a grassy area so that rain can soak into the ground. 
  • Install a rain barrel to capture rain from downspouts. 
  • If you water your lawn, don’t water your sidewalk or driveway. 
  • Prevent exposed soil from washing into storm drains and straight to the lakes where it can muddy the water, damage fish habitat, deliver algae-feeding nutrients and fill lakes and streams. Seed and mulch any exposed soil. Cover piles of soil with a tarp until they’re used. 
  • Protect slopes and shoreline from erosion by planting native vegetation in a shoreland buffer. Download this handy guide for protecting your waterfront investment, courtesy of UW Extension. 

Caring People Who Get Involved = Clean Lakes

The lake’s edge is as close as the nearest storm drain. We can all help, wherever we are.