‘Suck the Muck’ removes 25K tons of sludge from area waterways

Dane County removed tens of thousands of tons of sludge from area waterways this year, as part of a two-prolonged effort to improve water quality and reduce the risk for flooding, according to a news release from Dane County Executive Joe Parisi.

The onset of winter weather in December marked the end of the county’s 2022 “Suck the Muck” efforts, with work happening this year within Six Mile Creek in the Town of Westport, between Waunakee and Middleton. Crews removed an estimated 25,000 tons of sediment from the waterway containing around 60,000 pounds of phosphorus. Six Mile Creek is one of several streams that feed into Lake Mendota that lab sampling showed had a high concentration of phosphorus in sediment built up along the bottom of the waterway.

Phosphorus is the key ingredient for spurring summer-time algae blooms in the Yahara Chain of Lakes. A single pound of phosphorus can lead to almost 500 pounds of algae growth. To date, Dane County’s “Suck the Muck” initiative has removed a combined nearly 60,000 tons of sludge containing an estimated 180,000 pounds of phosphorus from several miles of Dorn, Token, and Six Mile Creeks. Next up for “Suck the Muck” is built up sediment within the Door Creek Wetlands in southeast Dane County. The County Executive’s 2023 budget includes $2 million for planning that project in the New Year, with construction slated for 2024.