Monday, April 07, 2014

Nice Aerial View of Frozen Koshkonong


Sunday, April 06, 2014

Koshkonong Has Crested

So far, so good.

Just keep the rain away, and keep this slow warm-up, warming-up.


Thursday, April 03, 2014

flood risk normal in Janesville

Planting for farmers delayed because of frozen ground, flood risk normal in Janesville

By Andrea Anderson
March 31, 2014
JANESVILLE— Sunday's sunshine and warmer weather make the lower winter temperatures feel like a distant memory, but for local farmers winter is far from a memory and is putting a dent in plans.

The frozen ground is delaying local farmers' planting schedule.

Farmers have to wait until the ground is thawed and dry enough to get on the fields to prepare for planting. They also are unable to plant crops when the soil is too cold or too wet.

Doug Rebout, a local farmer, is normally out working the fields this time of year to prepare for the first day of planting on April 15. Because of this year's frozen ground he's not.

Instead, he's waiting for the ground to warm up and for the soil to dry out.

“It's not like we go out and measure the temperature or anything, it's just more of an instinct,” Rebout said.

Rebout plants 2,600 acres of corn, 1,000 acres of soybeans, 150 acres of winter wheat and a couple hundred acres of hay.

He won't be planting by April 15 and doesn't have an exact date when he will begin.

“Mother nature is your main thing that tells us when we can and can't go,” Rebout said.

Last year planting began April 28.

Once crops are planted it doesn't mean it's smooth sailing. There could be heavy rain, droughts or other conditions that delay harvest.

Rebout is waiting patiently and he hopes others will, too.

“Once we get going we're going to be putting in a lot of long hours, we hope people are patient with us on the roads,” Rebout said.

The winter that would never end, and still hasn't for some, could have been a blessing in disguise.

As spring approached, the weather was warmer one day and colder the next, allowing for a gradual snow and ice melt and leading to a gradual rise in Rock River water levels.

These are ideal conditions to keep the risk of flooding as low as possible, said J.J. Wood,  National Weather Service meteorologist.

“You want it to be a gradual melt,” Wood said. “Then if you do have runoff, it's not going to raise the level of the river too much.”

Certain parts of the Rock River have a 50 percent chance of flooding by June, according to the river's forecast completed by the National Weather Service.

The forecast depends on precipitation, snow melt and soil conditions.

The forecast is normal, Wood said.

According to measurements, the river's water level in Afton is up 6.7 feet from about 4 feet at the beginning of the month, Wood said. The flood stage, or the point where water begins to flood roads or reach homes, is 9 feet.

“Right now I would say it's in a normal type of range for this time of the year, it's nothing unusual,” Wood said.

For the river to exceed flood stage at least once or twice by June is not out of the question, unless there was a drought, Wood said.

Ground temperature also contributes to flooding.

If large amounts of rain fall and the ground remains frozen or does not thaw enough, the majority of that rain will not be absorbed by the soil and will end up in the river, increasing water levels.


Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Spring brings manure hazard

Spring brings manure hazard
By Lee Bergquist
   Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
   With warmer weather finally on the way, state officials are warning farmers and the public that there is a potentially high risk across most of Wisconsin for manure to pollute groundwater, streams, rivers and lakes.
   Following the highest number of manure spills in seven years in 2013, this year’s threat is due to melting snow and rainfall that could send soil and animal waste into streams.
   Under the right conditions, manure also could soak into aquifers, from which drinking water is drawn.
   Manure, an important source of fertilizer, contains bacteria, phosphorus and nitrogen, which can enrich soil. But if misapplied, it can pollute waterways and groundwater.
   So far, the seemingly endless winter has meant snow has melted gradually, which has kept manure runoff problems to a minimum, according to officials at the Department of Natural Resources and the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.
   With warmer temperatures and rain predicted over the next week, conditions could change quickly, officials say.
   The state agriculture department’s runoff risk advisory forecast is currently listed as “high” across most of Wisconsin. The system lets farmers and others check individual watersheds and judge the risk of spreading, based on soil moisture, snowpack, temperature, the forecast for rain and other factors.
   This month, the DNR and agriculture department spent more than $9,000 airing radio spots, warning farmers about proper spreading practices.
   The Journal Sentinel reported in December that farmers had the highest number of spills in 2013 in a seven-year period. Livestock operations spilled more than 1 million gallons of manure last year, which is less than 1 percent of manure produced by dairy cattle in Wisconsin.
   The data between 2007 and 2013 showed no clear trend, but state officials say there is growing awarenessof proper manure handling.
   Management and engineering issues can be a source of the problem, as evidenced last week when the DNR issued two notices of violation against a publicly financed manure digester in Dane County for environmental problems starting in 2012. The most recent spill occurred March 12.
   Still, weather is a major factor.
   “Conditions are worse this year than last year,” said Andrew Craig, a nutrient management specialist for the DNR.
   One factor that could compound any problems: Wisconsin’s largest dairy farms, with 700 or more cows, will soon be heading into the fields to start spreading.
   Known as CAFOs, or concentrated animal feeding operations, the farms are prohibited from spreading manure in February and March, except in emergencies. Some are reaching the maximum capacity of their pits and must start emptying them soon.
   “This is go-like-hell time, that’s just the way it is, “ said David Eisentraut, of Eisentraut Ag Services, a Sheboygan County company that pumps manure from pits and spreads it on fields. “Winter’s running a little late, so everyone is very tight on storage.”
   Eisentraut and others who handle much of the spreading for large farms are days away from a frenzied period, moving farm to farm, draining pits and working the manure into the soil. The work has to be done before planting season.
   Unlike CAFOs, smaller farms aren’t required to follow plans that spell out how manure is applied to individual fields.
   But some smaller farms do. Today, 26 percent of all cropland is covered by such plans, a figure that is rising steadily.
   Lynn Utesch, a small-scale beef farmer in Kewaunee County and a critic of CAFOs, believes large farms are growing too quickly, outgrowing their ability to store manure.
   Too many farms are asking for emergency approval to spread manure on frozen ground, “where it’s going to end up right in our streams,” he said.


Tuesday, April 01, 2014

What a difference a Month Makes….

March 1st = 775.84
April 1st = 778.28

A lake level increase of - 2 1/2 feet.


RKLD and Mother Nature Just Proved the Value of a higher SNW Trigger

So what did the new SNW ordinance accomplish this Spring?

Simply, it bought us another week of boating.

Under the old gestapo County rules, the SNW order would have been imposed a week ago.

This time of year, with snow piles still remaining and water temps near freezing, this might sound like an insignificant point.

However, for those years when lake levels jump (or decline) adjacent to a holiday weekend - Memorial Day in May, Independence Day in July, Labor Day in September - the week that the RKLD bought is very significant.

--- It is the difference between getting the kids and grandkids out on the tubes and skis, or having them spend a summer "boating" holiday in front of the tv with their IPads...

--- It enabled the UW Crew Team to stay on the river a week longer training…

--- It enables the fishing boats to get to their honey holes on plane, rather than plowing a wake into my pier (which is set too low, so I am not complaining).

Sometimes, we forget - 
...during flood conditions, the dam is little more than a speed bump, it does not hold water back; 

...during drought conditions, the dam can hold back water for a short time, stretching the recreational season a week or so.

These are the fights RKLD says is worth having, and Mother Nature is proving our motives are correct and justified today.

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Monday, March 31, 2014


Rock County Sheriff's Office posts slow/no-wake on Rock River

March 31, 2014
JANESVILLE--The Rock County Sheriff's Office has announced that the northern and central portions of the Rock River are under slow/no-wake restrictions.
U.S. Geological Survey gauges show water levels on Lake Koshkonong were at 8.16 feet Monday, and the river level at Afton was 6.79 feet.
A county ordinance requires slow/no-wake to be set on the northern part of the river when water levels exceed 8 feet at Lake Koshkonong and at the central part of the river when waters exceed 6.5 feet at Afton.
Sheriff's deputies will begin placing slow/no-wake signs along the river at all public access points between the south end of Lake Koshkonong and the Beloit-Rock Townline Road bridge. The restrictions will remain in effect until the sheriff's office lifts them.
There is no slow/no-wake posting for southern portion of the Rock River between the Townline Road bridge and the state line. The county ordinance only requires slow/no-wake postings south of the Townline Road bridge when waters reach 8.5 feet at Afton.
Lake Koshkonong itself does not fall under the slow/no-wake orders.


Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Thankful that it is NOT Slow No Wake out there….


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Thanks Tom! ALL GATES 100% OPEN

its good to see that everything is operable [gates and wickets] at indianford as we are well aware of what can occur this time of year on our lake.
tom voskuil

Saturday, March 22, 2014


Today, the official lake level is at 777.49 and will cross the 7.50 threshold before the end of the day.

This is significant because under the OLD Rock County slow-no wake ordinance, the county with support from the Chairman of the Fulton Town Board, would have closed full speed navigation on the Rock River.

Yep, Slow No Wake would have been issued, and the UW Crew Team and their support boats would have been kicked-off the water.

And fishing boats - because under the OLD ordinance, SNW would be in effect now, yet by observing the shorelines, most everyone would never assume SNW would be imposed at this water level.

Today, fishing boats can get up, plane-off, pushing a smaller wake than the wakes they pushed if SNW was in effect today.

It is a shame RKLD had to spend the money we did to demonstrate shoreline water levels, pay legal fees to attorneys to sit and wait to speak to the county board, pay engineer firms to produce maps illustrating how the OLD county ordinance was punitive.

We even had to prove the claims made by the sanitation district's (CKSD) engineers were wrong when they testified a higher trigger for the SNW order would "flood" their pumping stations located near the lake.

If CKSD/Strand knew those claims to be false at the time, they should have been terminated, and if they believed their own claims, then they are not qualified as engineers and should have been terminated.

Strong words perhaps - but take a look at your shoreline today and through next week, and tell me if your property is inundated.  

Drive past those CKSD pumping stations and see if you can find where the lake or river has breached so far that water is approaching those structures.

The amount of money RKLD must spend to defend against the ridiculous and to promote the logical prevents us from reinvesting those resources into the habitat.

Happy fishin - Koshkonong Walleyes will be feasting soon.

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Friday, March 21, 2014


Time of year for the questions to start all over again…..

How Cold Was It...


Wednesday, March 19, 2014

How "bout a Meeting to Say LKWA Had No Science, No Data, No Justification to fight 7.2 inches??

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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Badger Crew Team Back In Town


Cow Manure Hurting Water Quality

To our friends in Jefferson and Rock Counties!

Another manure release event in Dane County and a legal challenge to a DNR permit issued to a CAFO in Kewaunee County to conduct aerial spray irrigation of livestock manure. 

I've also attached a March 2013 letter from the Wisconsin office of the American Lung Association regarding the manure irrigation project.

And I just learned that CAFO advocates in Brown County are "whispering" with the Oneida Tribe about wonderful job opportunities from expanding manure spreading fields onto reservation lands.

The push by the agricultural industry and farm lobby to expand delivery of livestock manure to our rural land, water and air resources is relentless and I fear this problem is headed our way, environmental and public health be damned.

Greg Farnham, Commissioner
Lake Sinissippi Improvement District
Hustisford, Wisconsin (Dodge County)

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: greg farnham <

Another uncontrolled manure release event.  Safe manure handling practices continue to be a bridge too far for CAFO owners and proponents, notwithstanding protestations by the agricultural industry and farm lobby to the contrary.

I'm concerned that Dodge County appears to demonstrate a caveat emptor attitude towards this issue.

The Land Conservation Committee last fall turned back an attempt to establish a county ordinance to enforce state law prohibiting winter spreading of manure next to lakes, rivers, streams and private wells.  County farmers and our own Land Conservation Department claimed that it was unnecessary to enforce the law.

And it appears the county still does not have a program to evaluate ground water protection despite the fact that the 2012 county land and water plan says that it does.  My February 5th letter to you remains unanswered.

I believe that the livestock manure contamination mess in Kewaunee County is headed our way, and I fear that our county is not going to be prepared to effectively protect our land and water resources and the health of our residents.

I hope our county departments with responsibilities in these matters don't rest on their laurels after having organized a water quality forum in February.  I encourage our county leaders to visit Kewaunee County, tour the spreading fields and talk with the community residents who are affected by CAFO manure.  The place to start is at Kewaunee Cares:

Greg Farnham

Broken pipe releases manure at digester site

News Release Published: March 12, 2014 by the South Central Region
Contact(s): David Mosher, 608-275-3321 Bob Manwell, DNR communications, 608-275-3317
WAUNAKEE, Wis. - An estimated 35,000 gallons of manure spilled from a broken pipe at the community manure digesting facility north of Waunakee during the early morning hours of March 12. The break was discovered by an employee of Clear Horizons, LLC, operators of the facility.

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Monday, March 17, 2014

With the Melt - Lake Level rises

March 1st = 775.84

Today = 776.6 (OVER DNR SUMMER MAX)

Increase of 9.12 inches

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Comparing Lake Levels

TODAY - 775.83
2013 - 776.84 (a foot HIGHER last year)
2012 - 776.81
2010 - 776.34
2009 - 778.1 (2+ FEET higher than today)
2008 - 777.82

In EVERY example, the gates, ALL gates were, and HAD BEEN, 100% WIDE OPEN.

Funny how Mother Nature works, eh?

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Winter had most days at or below zero--ever

It seems that weather rankings are in the eye of the beholder.
The National Weather Service has gauged this season’s chills, in part, by noting the number of days with subzero temperatures from the start of November through the end of February. By that measure, the allegedly just-ended season had the fourth-most days with the mercury below zero.
But add in days when the temperature sunk to exactly zero, and suddenly, this season is Chicago’s new No. 1.
“It looks like overall this winter has had the most zero or below,” said weather service meteorologist Richard Castro. “So it’s not just perception that it’s felt particularly brutal this year. The numbers say it.”
Monday morning’s low of minus-2 degrees puts Chicago in fourth place by the narrower measurement.
Reframing the numbers to get to a No. 1 requires the addition of three days when the city’s low temperature was right at zero, making for 26 total when it was that cold or colder. The previous record-holding season, 1884-85, had 25 subzero days and none right at zero.
Castro said temperatures likely will not reach zero or below again this season, as the nights are getting shorter and the Earth tilts toward the sun. However, this season’s overall severity could still worsen when considering cold along with snow, Castro said.
“The combination for the two is definitely the most severe winter since the ’70s,” Castro said.
Chicago’s 73.4 inches of snow so far this season, which the weather service counts as autumn through spring, stands at the fourth-most since 1884. That’s slightly less than during 1969-70, which saw 77 inches. The only two years above those were in 1977-78 at 82.3 inches, and in 1978-79 at 89.7 inches total.
However, the weather service predicts more snow will hit Chicago on Tuesday night and possibly over the weekend, Castro said. That could push the city’s snowfall total into second place, Castro said.
“We’re within 10 inches of second place,” Castro said, “So if we can get some snow out of these next couple of events ... you can’t rule it out. And it doesn’t really look like we’re going to break out into another much warmer pattern any time soon.”
As far as average temperatures go, Chicago is at its third-coldest season on record, at 18.8 degrees for “meteorological winter,” or December through February. But widen the time frame to include November and March, Castro said, and who knows how cold the season would be.
“November through March periods would be something to look at this year to compare to previous seasons,” Castro said. “We’ve never done that before. We’ve never had to. Meteorological seasons stood for themselves.”


Monday, February 24, 2014

More Weather (and not the good kind)

The two words we don't want to hear anymore in Wisconsin — polar vortex — are being used this week once again.
The cold air mass that usually hangs closer to the Arctic is plunging south, putting Wisconsin and a good part of the eastern U.S. into frigid temperatures at least through Sunday.
Temperatures will be about 20 degrees colder than normal. Highs in Madison for the last week of February are in the mid-30s and lows are in the upper teens.
About the only good thing in the National Weather Service forecast is that there should be plenty of sunshine and very little snow.
The day-to-day outlook in Madison:
  • Monday night: A 30 percent chance of snow before 2 a.m. Tuesday, low around 6, wind chills in the 0 to 5 below range.
  • Tuesday: Mostly sunny, high near 15.
  • Tuesday night: Partly cloudy, low around 11 below, wind chills in the 0 to 10 below range.
  • Wednesday: Mostly sunny and cold, high near 8. Winds 10 to 20 miles per hour with gusts up to 30 mph.
  • Wednesday night: Mostly clear, low around 3 below.
  • Thursday: Sunny and cold, high near 7.
  • Thursday night: Partly cloudy, low around 12 below.
  • Friday: A 20 percent chance of snow, partly sunny, high near 11.
  • Friday night: Mostly cloudy, low around 4 below.
  • Saturday: Partly sunny, high near 12.
  • Saturday night: A 20 percent chance of snow, mostly cloudy, low around 2 below.
  • Sunday: A 30 percent chance of snow, mostly cloudy, high near 15.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Deep Freeze - On Lake Koshkonong

Deep Freeze


Friday, January 24, 2014

Near whiteout conditions, ice plague area highways

Near whiteout conditions, ice plague area highways

Strong winds are whipping snow into a frenzy in Dane County and south central Wisconsin, causing near whiteout conditions and icy pavement.
A dispatcher at the Dane County 911 Center told the blowing snow is making driving difficult.
"It's blowing pretty good," the dispatcher said.
Winds were strong enough to take a prefabricated house off a flatbed trailer heading east on Highway 18/151 near Blue Mounds and depositing the house, upright, in the westbound lanes.
The State Traffic Operations Center said the "house in road" incident happened about 9 a.m. The house was removed from the highway lane by 10:15 a.m. but was still alongside the roadway.
The State Patrol told Interstate 39/90/94 north of Madison was starting to ice up because of the blowing snow.
"We have a couple of vehicles in ditches," a dispatcher said.
The state road conditions map  shows many stretches of snow-covered or slippery highways all across the state, so drivers are advised to take it easy on the road.


Sunday, January 19, 2014

More on Bald Eagles

Eagles on the Rock and Miss


Saturday, January 18, 2014

Prop Owners Win on Delavan Lake

Keep an Eye on Your Assessments

More than 50 Delavan lakefront owners sued the town of Delavan over assessments and taxes paid in 2009 and 2010.

Read the decision:

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Friday, January 17, 2014

We have it all on our Rock River/Lake Koshkonong


Eagles in Newville

Bald eagles can be near the Indianford Dam or nestled in the high branches of old oaks near the river in Newville

 “We are seeing more and more eagles,” Buenzow said. “Everywhere there’s a dam, there’s at least one eagle waiting for fish for dinner.

He remembers when no eagles were anywhere on the river.

 “Today, we have several pairs breeding in Rock County,” Buenzow said. “They’ve been on Lake Koshkonong for about 10 years. It’s a great wildlife comeback story.”

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Thursday, January 16, 2014

6 Years Ago - It Began

Jan 16, 2008 = 779.2
Jan 16, 2104 = 775.93

39 1/4 inches HIGHER then, than now.

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Wet 2013

During the summer and early fall of 2012, southern Wisconsin experienced a challenging period of drought.  In sharp contrast, the first half of 2013 has experienced very wet conditions with precipitation amounts now incredibly running up to 15 inches above normal through June 26th.

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2013 Jan thru June - weather

3rd Wettest January – June Period On Record. I was a little surprised to see the reality of the first half of 2013: the third wettest (first 6 months of a year) going back 119 years, according to NOAA NCDC. It was the wettest January thru June period on record for Wisconsin, Iowa and Illinois, while California saw the driest first half of the year ever recorded. All or nothing.

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Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Rock River Trail Initiative Council Meeting - Thursday

Rock River Trail Initiative Council Meeting
Thursday, January 16, 2014
1:00 – 4:00 PM
Edgerton Public Library
101 Albion Street
Edgerton, Wisconsin 53534
608 884-4511
(Use driveway on left of library to large parking lot - 
enter library from rear door - meet in large conference room)


1.  Welcome and Introductions – Dave Hoffman,  Meeting Chair

2.  Welcome to Edgerton - Ramona Flanagan, City Administrator of Edgerton

3.  Approve minutes of October 10, 2013 Council meeting held in Byron, Ill.

4.   What is needed to complete signage for Rock River Water Trail? - county by county

5.  Status of sign purchase and installation for Rock River Trail Scenic and Historic Route - 
Wisconsin and Illinois - Greg Farnham

6.  Ceremonies for opening of the Rock River Trail Scenic and Historic Route in Illinois

7.  Celebration (formal opening) ceremony for designation of the Rock River Water Trail
 as a National Water Trail - Frank Schier

8.  Status of the Rock River Trail Bike Route in Illinois - Dean Mathias
and in Wisconsin - Greg Farnham

9.  Tourism/economic development workshop in Beloit November 22nd - Dave Schreiber

10.  Status of sculpture and art of the Rock River project  - Debbie Thompson

11.  Status of RRTI sponsorship, contributions and grants - Frank Schier

12.  Website needs

13.  Other business

14.  Next Meeting Date and Venue

15.  Adjournment


Monday, January 13, 2014

Road Salt in Rock River, Lake Koshkonong

Andrea Anderson
January 13, 2014

As public works directors rush crews to spread salt and keep winter roads safe for drivers, they're balancing another concern: the environment.
A teaspoon of salt can contaminate five gallons of water, and salt trucks spread about 300 pounds of salt per mile.
“Personally, in Rock County, we are concerned because runoff goes to some of our lakes and rivers,” said Ben Coopman, Rock County highway commissioner.
“I think that is a statewide concern. But the biggest reason it doesn't seem to cause anything to change is the economics of it. There isn't a cheaper, more environmentally-friendly product out there," Coopman said.
Counties and municipalities have a responsibility to maintain clear roads for drivers, said Kevin Brunner, Walworth County public works director.
“We are trying to minimize salt,” Brunner said. “It's a tough balancing act because the expectation is bare pavement … (People) expect right after a storm to be able to get to wherever they have to get to.”
Residents bear some of the responsibility because they demand snow-free roads, said Connie Fortin, owner of Fortin Consulting, a Minnesota based environmental consulting firm.
“When you call and whine because your cul-de-sac is slippery or you can't get to work in 10 minutes, those guys just dump on more and more salt,” Fortin said. “Most homeowners have no idea what is happening to the lakes, rivers and ground water, and they don't know there is a negative side to complaining.”
Road salt affects water density and nutrient levels, causing changes in aquatic animal and plant life expectancy.
A study published in 2008 by the Ecological Society of America indicates road salt could travel up to 172 miles from a highway into wetlands, decreasing the survival rate of frogs and salamanders.
“It doesn't biodegrade, it doesn't break down, it doesn't go away,” Fortin said.  “Every winter we add this to our water and our lakes and our rivers and it has been accumulating for however many years we have been deicing.”
A 2010 study by the U.S. Geological Survey found that all streams studied in eastern and south central Wisconsin had elevated chloride levels that at some point in winter exceeded the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency chronic water quality criteria.
During the winter months, researchers found chloride levels greater than 10,000 milligrams per liter, higher than the water quality criteria of 230 milligrams per liter and acute water-quality criteria of 860 milligrams per liter. Aquatic animals begin to die when chloride levels are greater than 230 milligrams per liter.
“There isn't anything really out there yet that is environmentally friendly,” said Michael Sproul, Wisconsin Department of Transportation winter maintenance engineer.
“They are all chlorides of some sort, they all get into the ecosystem and pollute. The object is to use as little as possible, that is where we are trying to be more environmentally friendly. If we only use the amount of salt necessary to get the snow or ice in plowable form … then we're saving our environment," Sproul said.
The amount of salt used each year is dependent on Mother Nature and pavement temperature. A salt truck typically drops 300 pounds of salt per lane mile. With the use of an additive, it goes down to about 200 pounds.
In the 2008-09 winter, Rock County and the municipalities it supplies used 1,612 tons of salt. The winter before, 8,685 tons were used. Last winter, 11,471 tons of salt were used, and this winter is shaping up to be about the same.
Rock County is responsible for maintaining 2,900 lane miles, the equivalent of a one-way trip to San Diego, Coopman said.
Until the mid-2000s, the county used a sand-salt mix. Now, it uses straight road salt, Coopman said.
Why not sand? Though the abrasive helps tires find a grip, when sand is mixed with salt, each reduces the effectiveness of the other.  Sand can be harmful, too. An Oregon Department of Transportation study in the early 1990s found 50 to 90 percent of sand applied to pavement remained in the environment after clean-up.
The rock salt sprinkled onto roads is effective until the temperature drops below 16 degrees. That's when additives, such as calcium chloride or magnesium chloride come in handy. They decrease the temperature that salt can melt ice to as low as minus 25 degrees.
The goal of deicing is not to melt the ice entirely but to break the adhesion between the pavement and the ice so plows can remove it later.
“In winter maintenance, the first priority is to plow,” Sproul said. “The goal is to only use the smallest amount of salt needed to melt and then be able to plow.”
So far this winter, Walworth County has used about 17,000 tons of its 30,000-ton salt supply, Brunner said. The county has an additional 2,750 tons on order.
County crews are responsible for maintaining Interstates, state highways and county roads. Town, village and city roads are the responsibility of the municipalities.
Walworth County is responsible for about 700 lane miles. That's compared to Whitewater, the county's largest city, which is responsible for about 50 lane miles, Brunner said.
The salt that county trucks sprinkle is pre-wet and has calcium chloride added. Pre-wetting helps the salt stick to the road.
“We pre-wet everything so it stays on the highway more,” Brunner said. “(We) found that by pre-wetting, about 30 percent more (salt) stays on highway.”
Public works directors, winter maintenance supervisors and environmentalists agree that 30 percent of dry salt broadcast onto roads bounces off and lands on road shoulders or nearby vegetation.
Salt that bounces onto road shoulders can kill trees and plants because they have a difficult time absorbing water with an increased salt content.
Pre-wetting cuts the amount of salt used about 25 percent because it has more melting power. It also reduces the bounce rate to 3 percent.
Only four counties in the state don't do pre-wetting, a method Sproul and Fortin recommend all counties use to protect their pocketbooks and the environment.
Area municipalities are coming up with creative ways to decrease the melting temperature and cut the costs of winter maintenance.
Beloit began adding beet juice to its salt several years ago. The juice is leftover after sugar is removed from sugar beets. Beet juice is used for deicing and anti-icing municipal roads.
Milwaukee is in the midst of a pilot program to use cheese brine, a product leftover from making cheese, to help pre-wet the roads and rock salt. Brine can be added to salt and then be applied before a snowstorm. It doesn't allow snow or ice to form a bond with the road, making it easier for plows to come through and clear the roads. Milwaukee sends trucks to Wisconsin's 140 cheese plants to pick up the brine. 
In Walworth County, county officials are taking a look at using Kikkoman soy sauce and mixing it with salt to make brine, Brunner said. Soy sauce has a high salt content that can expedite melting.
Fortin, who provides training for Minnesota and Wisconsin winter maintenance crews, understands that science has not come up with a complete alternative for salt, but she is adamant that there are practices that are better for the environment.
It starts with choosing plowing over salt and homeowners being proactive.
To minimize residential salt use, homeowners should shovel snow as it falls or before it's compacted by walking or driving, she said.
She also suggests homeowners use salt sparingly--no more than a half pound per 150 square feet. An average coffee mug can hold one pound of salt, and an average parking space is 150 square feet.

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Sunday, January 12, 2014

US Army Corps can do anything…

USACE Dewaters Niagara Falls


Friday, January 10, 2014

Record Cold Temps - Chart


Thursday, January 09, 2014

Koshkonong Shorelines Benefit

Deep freeze has some silver linings for the natural world
Associated Press
   From a field station in northern Wisconsin, where the previous night’s low was a numbing 29 degrees below zero, climate scientist John Lenters studied computer images of ice floes on Lake Superior with delight.
   It may be hard to think of this week’s deep freeze as anything but miserable, but to scientists like Lenters there are silver linings: The extreme cold may help raise low water in the Great Lakes, protect shorelines and wetlands from erosion, kill insect pests and slow the migration of invasive species.
   “All around, it’s a positive thing,” Lenters, a specialist in the climate of lakes and watersheds, said Wednesday.
   Ice cover on the Great Lakes has been shrinking for decades, but this year more than 60 percent of the surface is expected to freeze over at some point—an occurrence that could help the lakes rebound from a prolonged slump in water levels.
   Even agriculture can benefit. Although cold weather is generally no friend to crops, some of southern Florida’s citrus fruits can use a perfectly timed cool-down, which they were getting as midweek temperatures hovered around freezing.
   “A good cold snap lowers the acidity in oranges and increases sugar content, sweetens the fruit,” said Frankie Hall, policy director for the Florida Farm Bureau Federation. “It’s almost been a blessing .”
   Scientists noted that subzero temperatures and pounding snowfalls like those that gripped much of the nation for several days are not unheardof in the Midwest and Northeast and used to happen more frequently.
   For all the misery it inflicted, the polar vortex that created the painfully frigid conditions apparently broke no alltime records in any major U.S. cities, according to Jeff Masters, meteorology director of Weather Underground.

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Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Ag Run-off Map

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Farmers Asked to Help With Runoff Issues into Lakes and Streams

Phosphorous Runoff

...Nutrient runoff and livestock manure contain phosphorus that travels through the Yahara Watershed — an area starting with the Yahara River near De Forest, running through Cherokee Marsh, including Lakes Mendota, Monona, Kegonsa and Waubesa, and ending at the Rock River. phosphorus contributes to unnatural weed growth and algae blooms...

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Rock River Freezes Over

   Top: An electronic sign on Milton Avenue in Janesville displays a noon temperature of minus 16 on Monday, but it's the flag in the background that really tells the weather story. Winds in the 20 mph range quickly turned the outdoors into a dangerous environment, and low temperatures are expected again today before things start trending up Wednesday.


Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Polar Vortex Hits Koshkonong

Freakishly frigid
Locals hunker down as polar vortex grips region
Gazette staff
   For Walworth County native Joseph Thomas, Sunday was the wrong night, the coldest night, to find himself homeless. Minus 18 degrees.
   After he’d had a falling out with the family of his f i a n c é , T h o m a s said he’d gotten a ride as far as Janesville. The sun was gone, the temperature was plummeting, and the wind was picking up.
   Thomas began to walk, nowhere in particular. His ears began to get cold. Then his fingers. Then his whole body.
   “It hurt,” Thomas said. “I’ve been homeless outside in the winter before, but this is the coldest I can remember.”
   Thomas said he went to a Janesville hospital emergency room just to warm up. From there he called the police for help. A Janesville officer offered him a ride to a church that is housing GIFTS, Janesville’s homeless shelter for men.
   At GIFTS, he got help, food—and most crucial—warmth.
   With dangerous cold weather settling in and wind chill temps as low as minus 45 expected through this morning, GIFTS has temporarily expanded its hours of operations around the clock.
   The shelter normally runs overnight and closes between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., although it has daytime social services at a downtown service center that run from 8:30 to noon on weekdays.
   GIFTS got the go-ahead from Faith Community Church, which is housing the shelter this week, to keep the shelter’s doors open around the clock through today.
   The church is allowing GIFTS to house it social services in the church temporarily, and volunteers are making extra meals and driving the homeless men to appointments or work.
   GIFTS Executive Director Stephanie Burton said those measures are in place so none of the 25 homeless men at the shelter have to risk being in the brutal cold for the next few days.
   “We didn’t even want people walking ten minutes to a bus stop. Not in this weather. It’s just too cold—it’s too dangerous,” she said.
   Thomas said he’s been homeless other winters. He remembers once squatting in an abandoned house in Beloit for a few days to keep from freezing.
   Monday afternoon, he sat in a chair in the church’s foyer lounge, filling out a resume form given to him by GIFTS social workers.
   His fingertips were still red from exposure to the cold Sunday night.
   “I don’t have no money, no food stamps,” Thomas said. “Right now, this is my best option.”
   Warmth on the way
   Monday’s high temperature in Janesville was a skinfreezing minus 12. A low of minus 18 was expected Monday night, the same as on Sunday night.
   The National Weather Service is calling for a warming trend, with a high of 3 above zero today and a low tonight of minus 4.
   Temperatures are expected to rise through Friday, when the weather service predicts a high of 32 with a chance of precipitation.
   The Accu-Weather forecasting service is calling for 35 on Friday, which would be 53 degrees higher than Sunday night.
   Speedy delivery
   Janesville Postmaster Laura Coots and her two supervisors checked in on letter carriers Monday to make sure they were staying safe from the cold. They also dispensed coffee and hot chocolate
   “Today was our big concern day,” Coots said after making the rounds Monday afternoon.
   Visiting the carriers is standard procedure during cold snaps like this one, Coots said.
   Experienced letter carriers know to dress in enough layers to protect themselves, with a wind-resistant outer shell, Coots said. The postal service provides chemical warmers that can be activated and placed in gloves or boots.
   Coots noted it’s been a cold winter so far, but she said letter carriers have had no medical problems with the cold.
   Coots said on days like this one, they try to get the carriers off the street before it gets dark and colder.
   “If people are able to keep their sidewalks clear and paths clear, they can get their routes done quicker, and they’ll be able to get out of the cold sooner,” she said.
   Furnace fritz
   In the battle against Monday’s extreme cold, consider furnaces among the area’s biggest losers.
   At 10 a.m. Monday as temperatures held at minus 17, Janesville company Al Beyers Cooling and Heating already had 15 calls in the basket for furnaces on the fritz.
   “It is crazy today. We’re bundled to the max,” Al Beyers dispatcher Jaci McDonough said. “We’ve had at least 20 calls for no heat before nine o’clock this morning, and all four of our phones are lit up right now. I don’t expect it to let up.”
   Every technician the company has, including the owners and crews that normally only handle new furnace installations, were on call Monday. McDonough said workers at the company had residential furnace calls all over the map, including Beloit, Janesville, Milton, Fort Atkinson, Lake Mills, Cambridge and Stoughton.
   During extreme cold, there’s always a spike in calls for furnace problems, McDonough said. People tend to take their furnace for granted as the quiet heartbeat of the household when it’s 20 degrees and sunny.
   Put a minus sign in front of that temperature and add some serious wind chill, and people become super-tuned to every little furnace ping and murmur.
   “We’ve gotten a lot of calls with people saying they hear funny sounds, whistles. Everybody is on high alert,” McDonough said.
   Sometimes the problem is simple—an outside vent blocked with ice and snow, or a dead thermostat battery.
   Older furnaces are more likely to completely break down under the strain of constant running, particularly as people turn up the heat to contend with the frigid cold.
   “If a (furnace) heat exchanger is already on the verge of going out and you’ve got your heat set higher than normal in this cold—the length of time running … the furnace is running constantly. It’s not getting a break,” Mc-Donough said.
   McDonough said crews from her company likely would put in 15 hours or more Monday to stay caught up on furnace calls.
   “You can’t leave people hanging because it’s not just about people pipes freezing. It’s about people. This cold is really, really dangerous,” she said.
   Cold cranking
   Cars were as cranky as their owners Monday.
   When they started, many sent their drivers a dizzying array of dashboard icons that often translated into low tire pressure or indicated problems with stability control systems.
   Service manager Mark Erdman and his crew at Fagan Automotive in Janesville were fielding phone calls from car owners with both sorts of problems.
   “Lots of the calls related to tire pressure,” Erdman said. “Tire pressure drops in severe cold, and usually a drop of 5 pounds per-square-inch will trigger that warning.
   “It’s something you don’t want to ignore because it can present a safety issue, plus it affects fuel economy and is just hard on the tires.”
   Erdman said the dealership also was getting calls about cars that wouldn’t start, most of which were the result of weak batteries.
   Fagan, he said, doesn’t typically make service calls, but service advisors have been doing plenty of diagnostics over the phone.
   Wurtz Service Center on Racine Street does make service calls, and tow truck drivers there were plenty busy.
   “Most of it has been for no-starts,” said Paul Williams of Wurtz. “It’s also been for tire problems.
   “For safety reasons, it’s often not reasonable to change a tire on the side of the road, so the vehicle needs to be towed somewhere else.”
   Williams said most cars that won’t start are generally being towed to repair shops.
   “Cars are a lot better than they used to be, but if you’ve got a low battery, they’re easier to flood, and once they’re flooded, they’re probably not going to start until the sparks plugs are cleaned and the gas is drained from the oil.
   “If it’s not starting, it’s probably not going to start.”
   The extreme cold also creates glare ice on roadways, a combination that often results in a call for a wrecker, Williams said.
   “One thing people really need to realize is that they have to avoid cruise control in these winter conditions,” he said. “The road might look fine, but once you get on a hill with your cruise control on and hit glare ice, it’s all over ”
   In a wet hole
   It’s hard to think of a worst job on a below-zero day than crawling into a wet hole to fix broken water pipes.
   At least workers in the hole are protected a bit from the harsh wind, said Dave Botts, Janesville’s utility director.
   Water pipes break when temperatures swing, and the frequency so far this season has been “a little above normal” with the recent severe weather in December and early January, Botts said.
   He counted about 20 water main breaks in December. Two more were reported Monday morning. Botts said the city could have even more as temperatures rise later this week.
   Frozen pipes
   Plumbers were scrambling to help residents and business owners worried about frozen pipes. Rick Terrill of Terrill Plumbing already had answered five frantic calls by early Monday afternoon. Pipes are more susceptible with the blustery winds because the drafts blow cold air over pipes. Restaurants have issues in this weather because their venting systems have fresh air intakes that bring in cold air. People don’t realize many bathroom vent fans let cold air in when not running, Terrill said. He figures it will only get worse at the end of the week with the predicted thaw. “A lot of pipes are frozen and broken right now that nobody realizes because they won’t show up until they thaw out,” he said. “You do your best to try to figure out where they (pipes) would be frozen and try to get heat to it,” Terrill said.
   Sometimes, Terrill must open walls so warmer air can get to the pipes.
   Terrill Monday afternoon was on his way to winterize a home for someone whose house is on the market.
   Brent Steinke, service manager at Lloyd’s Plumbing and Heating, said the owners of five or six houses called him with frozen pipe issues Monday.
   To avoid frozen pipes, Steinke suggested residents turn on faucets periodically or allow a small stream of water to run. People should keep cabinet doors open under sinks, especially if it’s a sink on an outside wall. Stop outside drafts that might move cold air across the pipes because it doesn’t take much of a draft to cause freezing, Steinke said.
   Also, residents should make sure the outside hoses are not connected to the house.
   Mostly, problems show up in older homes where pipes sometimes were installed inside exterior walls. Frozen pipes in homes built in the last 20 years usually are the result of a draft or a hole, he said.
   If pipes freeze, residents can use heat guns or hair driers to melt ice in plastic pipes but should make sure the heat doesn’t melt the pipes. Plumbers can use thawing machines, but they can be used only on copper or steel pipes. Never use an open flame to warm a pipe, Steinke said.
   If a pipe is frozen, chances are it will burst when the water thaws, he said.
   Streets cleaned
   Janesville crews hit city streets Saturday in a race against the clock to mop up the best they could after Saturday’s snow but before the big freeze, said John Whitcomb, operations director.
   Crews worked from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
   “We wanted to make sure that our arterial and collector street systems were going to be snow free and then would dry enough before the very cold,” Whitcomb said.
   “We got lucky,” Whitcomb said. “I don’t think it got as cold as quick as the forecast. We’re in pretty good shape.”
   The new automated garbage collection trucks are running all right in the lower temps, although workers did have a few equipment issues Monday morning, Whitcomb said.
   The trucks started fine, but condensation is generally a bigger problem for diesel fuel when vehicles move from higher to lower temps.
   No cold injuries
   A Mercy Hospital and Trauma Center spokeswoman said one patient was treated last week in the emergency department for hypothermia, but no weather-related cases were reported Monday.
   No cold-related cases were reported at St. Mary’s Janesville Hospital, a spokeswoman said.
   False alarms
   Janesville police responded to an unusual number of burglar alarms late Sunday night into early Monday morning that appeared to be weather related, Lt. Terry Sheridan said.
   “It must have something to do with the cold and any little shift that could disrupt the alarm fields between the doors and windows causing them to go off,” he said.
   Police responded to all eight calls—some at the same location more than once—“because we never know the cause,” Sheridan said.
   Child care
   While many parents took to local Facebook pages to express relief about school being canceled, several area parents questioned why day care centers also closed. In one local mothers group, parents expressed frustration about having to work even though their day cares closed, while others said no child should be exposed to the outdoors for any amount of time.
   Heather Jenkins, owner of Alternative Childcare on Janesville’s west side, received a flood of calls and emails late Sunday from parents trying to make arrangements after the Janesville School District canceled school for Monday. Jenkins runs a drop-in, hour-by-hour day care center, and advertised her business on Facebook on Sunday for parents in a pinch.
   “I know a lot of parents are kind of frustrated because a lot of schools closed Friday and Janesville didn’t close until Sunday,” she said, which resulted in the Sunday night calls.
   She had eight kids Monday and had to turn down quite a few more. She expects to be just as busy today because it’s harder for parents to take off two days rather than one, she said.
   Cold pets
   By mid-morning Monday, the Rock County Humane Society had not responded to any calls of pets in distress.
   Executive Director Brett Frazier said most people take good care of their pets and the majority of past calls during cold weather have come from people concerned about outdoors animals. Because the humane society doesn’t conduct cruelty investigations, it encourages people to call local law enforcement to check out those problems.
   People who suspect “something is not quite right” with an animal can call the humane society at 608-752-5622, Frazier said.
   “We take overnight drop-offs from the city of Janesville and city of Beloit police and that’s where the majority of our strays come from,” he said.
   “Between the police and humane society we’ve got the capacity to help any animal in distress and put it into a safe situation,” Frazier said.
   Cold day to dig
   Cemetery workers dig graves all winter, but the city of Janesville’s Oakhill Cemetery lucked out by not needing any sites dug during this bitter cold, said Kathy Greenwell at the cemetery’s office.
   The cemetery had two burials last week and one is pending for likely later this week, she said.
   The frost was 4 to 8 inches deep last week, she said, with the snow providing a blanket to help protect the ground from freezing deeply.
   Workers need a two-day notice in winter to dig a grave, she said. They use a jackhammer or sometimes propane heaters to help get through the frost, she said.