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Dredger

Dane County's "Suck the Muck" program began in June at Dorn Creek, where crews have pumped out mineral-laden sludge from the bottom of the creek to prevent phosphorus from getting into the lakes, where it feeds toxic algae blooms.

Suck the Muck appears to be a success.

The $12 million program to vacuum tons of phosphorus-laden sediment from the bottom of Dane County streams got off to a strong start this fall.

County Executive Joe Parisi said 11,000 tons of sediment containing 75,000 pounds of phosphorus was sucked out of almost three miles of Dorn Creek, northwest of Lake Mendota.

The sediment went down about 3 to 4 feet to the creek bottom, so the amount of material taken was about twice as much as initially anticipated.

The sediment was taken to an abandoned Dane County gravel pit south of Dorn Creek, which was overgrown with invasive plants. The plants were removed and the sediment put in. The filled pit will eventually be reborn as prairie.

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Suck the Muck is a plan to clean up 33 miles of streams that feed into the Yahara lakes. Sediments in those streams are believed to contain about 870,000 pounds of phosphorus.

Phosphorus provides nutrients to algae in the lakes, resulting in the explosion of blue-green algae blooms during the hotter days of summer.

“By removing this sediment, we will see clean lakes in our lifetime,” Parisi said.

The work on Dorn Creek is also expected to revitalize the northern pike fishery in the creek, which was a spawning area for pike 50 years ago.

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