The Koshkonong Creek over the years has had only very minimal maintenance performed on it, and as development increases in the communities in the watershed, and with climate change, the flow in the creek has increased, especially in the last 20 years. We have interviewed people that had worked on our farm over 40 years ago, and other local farmers in the area confirm, that flooding in the creek was almost non-existent. However, recently, it is not uncommon for the creek to overflow 3 or 4 times a year, for long periods of time. In discussions with the Dane County Drainage Board, and with farmers in the area, it has become apparent that action must be taken to reverse the flooding trends and help reclaim some of the farmland back into production. To that end, we believe that the following needs to happen:
Clean the tree debris that lies in the creek.
The Friends of Koshkonong Creek has initiated this step in 2017, along with help from Capitol City Water Trails, the creek is being cleared upstream from Hwy 73 to Uphoff Road. In late 2021, tree removal work has started in the section from Uphoff Road to Baxter Road, and in April 2022, tree blockages were cleared near McCarthy Park. In winter of 2020, Districts 8 & 9 in the Dane County Drainage District were cleared of trees at least on one side of the creek, and the creek bottom was cleaned and dredged up to 2 feet to eliminate sediment that had built up. This will be a continuing process for years to come until the large Cottonwoods and Box Elder trees are finally eliminated or controlled.
Dredge the creek from Hwy 73 to Baxter Rd.
Clearing tree debris from the creek has proven to somewhat alleviate the flooding time period to more normal time frames, but the minimum water level has not returned to the levels that local farmers had historically seen 40 years ago. Critical weather events such as the ice storm of 1976, which caused a lot of the tree falls blocking the creek initially, the 100 year rain event of 2012 caused excess erosion of dirt, and along with the string of years of high precipitation from 2017 through spring of 2020, the silt level in the creek to become excessive, especially in the area of Hwy 73 upstream to Baxter Rd. With the higher water level causes additional erosion, which eventually causes more tree falls into the creek, exacerbating the problems further.
The minimum water level will not return to historical levels without active silt removal therefore we advocate dredging the creek this year and next year. Since there still exists many trees along the target dredge areas, using excavators that require swing areas to turn will not be effective. Some of the areas do not have sufficient ditch banks from the old channeling so heavy excavators would not work in those areas either. Therefore, we are advocating the use of mini dredges, that are on floats, and simply suck the muck only, and not dredge further down from the original channel created. The silt, which eroded from the farm fields, would be returned those fields. If performance of this activity is not delayed, ARP funds are presently available in some of the municipalities.
Study and inventory the creek as it now exists, and plan for the next 50 years. This is the heart of the study to be performed by the UniverCity Alliance. More on this in the the seperate section.
Modify the creek so that it can efficiently handle current, and long term expected flows. Conclusions and recommendations made by the University Alliance study will be discussed by stakeholders, funding will be determined, and timing of the construction work to be performed will be set.
Plan for ongoing maintenance. Once the creek is cleaned, and modified, it is imperative that the creek now become maintained on a regular basis. The neglect it suffered since it had been originally dredged should not be repeated.