Council supports lakes study

By Dave Fidlin


Whitewater’s two local bodies of water — Cravath and Trippe lakes — could receive some tender loving care this year after city officials have backed a series of proposals.

The city had unsuccessfully sought grant dollars from the state Department of Natural Resources to study the feasibility of a dredging project in the two lakes. But the proposal is not dead in the water.

The Common Council on March 15 approved a request, floated by Matt Amundson, parks and recreation director, to move forward on the study with city dollars. The amount of the study has been capped at $36,000.

Despite the less-than-desired news from the DNR, Amundson said he was recommending the city use dollars within this year’s municipal budget to study what can be done, long term, about the presence of weeds and other plants that make water recreation a challenge each summer.

“I feel that the project is the next critical step, in terms of lake health,” Amundson said. “The sooner the project is completed, city staff and the council will be able to determine the next step towards lake improvement.”

As part of the plan adopted by the council, the funding is expected to come out of a capital improvement plan budget, and about $36,000 of the authorized amount is expected to go directly toward lab studies that will analyze water quality in both bodies of water.

Results from the study are aimed at guiding city staffers and outside experts in determining next steps.

In a letter to the city, Kathleen Hanson, grant manager with Wisconsin DNR’s surface water grants program, said this year’s grant application process was highly competitive. The state agency received 117 applications for a pool of $2.99 million.

“The decision-making process was a difficult one, with many worthwhile applications vying for limited grant funds,” Hanson wrote in the letter.

Hanson said each applicant was given a score after a number of processes occurred. Review steps included a screening by a team of environmental grant specialists and a compilation of what would be required, logistically, by a technical group of experts.

The city, which applied for the DNR grants in December, had used outside expertise in the application process. Middleton-based Nahn and Associates was hired to assist in the project.

Alongside the dredging study, the council also has backed a more immediate, short-term issue: contracting with a company specializing in removing weeds from the two lakes.

Germantown-based Midwest Aquatics Inc. has been tapped to undertake the weed removal project. The contract amount totals $15,000.

“Midwest Aquatics has been our contractual lake harvester the past two years,” Amundson said. “The proposal includes two harvests and the ability to add additional ones if conditions warrant.”

In recent years, the city has proposed forming a lake district to help delineate funding sources for projects such as dredging work and weed removal. If implemented, funds for such projects would come from the lake district’s budget — not from general municipal operations.

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