Healthy Watersheds Make Healthy Rivers

Baraboo River at SunsetThe quality of our lakes and rivers is a reflection of how we take care of our land. Waterfront property owners, inland residents, recreational users, agricultural producers and other businesses all play a role in maintaining and improving the water quality in our lakes and rivers.

There are a number of simple steps you can take to protect the river or lake in your watershed.

  • Properly dispose of garbage while on the river. It can be easy to lose track of your garbage if you tip your canoe.
    Please keep all garbage secured in your boat so you can dispose of it when you return home.
  • Properly dispose of household hazardous waste. Do not pour old oil or pesticides in the ditch or wash paintbrushes at the end of your driveway. Storm sewers connect directly to our rivers and lakes. To learn more about how to dispose of household hazardous waste contact your Land Conservation Department.
  • Direct downspouts onto your lawn or landscaping, not onto hard surfaces. Allowing water to soak in rather than run off your property filters out pollutants and replenishes our groundwater.
  • Manage your lawn to reduce pollution. Keep grass clippings on the lawn, not on roads or sidewalks. Decomposing nutrients then bond to the soil rather than flowing down storm sewers. Reduce fertilizer and pesticide applications to minimize runoff pollution. Use no-phosphorus fertilizers to reduce the availability of this water pollutant.
  • Plant native trees and shrubs. A recent Wisconsin study found that lawns created much more runoff than wooded areas. As a consequence the runoff from lawns carried eight times more phosphorus to the river than the runoff from similar sized wooded areas.