Lake Levels, Reproductive Health, and Keeping Families Together

In the past few weeks, I toured Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin, discussed lake levels in a joint EANR and Lakes and Watershed commission meeting, and helped move forward an advisory referendum on legalizing, taxing and regulating marijuana in Dane County and other counties in Wisconsin.  Here is more detail:

Lake Levels

Our dog Atwood monitoring lake levels at Yahara Place Park.

Our dog Atwood monitoring lake levels at Yahara Place Park.

On Thursday June 14th, EANR and Lakes and Watershed commission had a joint meeting with presentations from Dave Janda with Dane County Emergency Management and John Reimer of Land and Water Resources.  Janda's presentation covered Dane County's Emergency Management plan in case of a flood or other natural disaster and Reimer focused on monitoring, analyzing and adjusting lake levels in the Yahara chain of lakes.  Both presentations are available here and contain valuable information (this is a personal recording and posting that I did):

In the comments on the video, I link to the agenda and will add the powerpoint presentations when available. The presentations were well-timed, as we had another extreme rain storm resulting in flooding across Dane County. I had particular interest in the lake levels presentation as our district would be affected in the event of the lakes flooding.

The Wisconsin DNR through an order in 1979 sets minimum and maximum lake levels.  Here is the order for Lake Monona and Waubesa:

Within this range that the state sets, the county has a six-inch range to raise and lower lake levels, that's it. Within the summer/winter min and max range, the county has summer and winter "goals" which are the median of the min and max range. The lake levels are set by the Land and Water Resources Department. To control lake levels, there is a series of damns (Babcock, Tenney, LaFollette, etc). There is a rich data set to monitor information in real time and chart lake levels:

Lake Level Data and Charting:

Real Time Yahara Watershed Monitoring (includes webcams):

With more extreme rain events and climate change, the lakes are often above summer maximum levels. The dams are currently open and have been for weeks, allowing for maximum water flow.

Going forward, I will advocate for keeping lake levels as low as allowed, as we know heavy rains are more common and as the climate change threat advances, we need to be prepared for flooding. 

If you have time, I would recommend listening to the entire presentation. Reimer does an excellent job explaining how we increase water flow through aquatic plant harvesting, running simulations of different storm events to see what the potential insurance claims would be, and answering a variety of questions from meeting attendees.

Reproductive Health


I recently toured Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin's Madison South Health Center. The tour was eye-opening in a number of ways. Planned Parenthood provides a variety of health services including STI and HIV testing, cervical cancer screening, breast cancer screening and abortions. While the majority of their services are provided to women, 12% of their clients are men.  In April they also offer free STI testing. In addition to the services in the clinic, they have a texting service where you can text "safersex" to "69866" to have questions answered, and are starting to expand into telemedicine.  

Planned Parenthood offers bilingual services and partners with community organizations such as Centro Hispano to work directly with the community to provide culturally relevant care.

At the end of the tour, we had an in-depth conversation about how difficult it is to provide services in this climate. PP is under consistent political pressure, and laws are specifically designed to make their jobs and funding more difficult.  When we think of the onerous requirements on abortions (mandatory waiting periods, required ultrasounds, politically motivated disclosures they are required to make to patients), we see how emotionally and financially taxing this process is.  Right now abortions are only offered in two locations in Wisconsin (Madison and Milwaukee), so if you live hundreds of miles away from a service provider and lack financial resources, the difficulties are compounded.

We asked what we could do to help (Dane County does provide funding for STI testing), and the number one answer was to work to get people involved in the political process so that health care decisions are made by patients and doctors, not politicians.  More information is available through the PP advocates page:

Keeping Families Together

Father's Day is when we celebrate the bond between parents and their children. That bond is being severed for so many families at our borders as children are being ripped from their parents and essentially incarcerated.  When I hear the stories of my mom and dad coming to America and how difficult it was, I can't imagine what would have happened to me and my sisters if we were taken from our parents.

These parents pushing towards the border are looking for survival, for a better life for their children, and for safety and asylum.  When we read these heart-breaking and cruel stories, it is easy to feel powerless and frustrated. We ask ourselves what we can do, and there are no easy answers. 

I ask that you join me in working harder for social justice, for equity. Let's push ourselves out of our comfort zones, and collectively our small actions can make lasting changes so this will never happen again in our history. We have an important election right around the corner. One of our senators has the power to ask the federal government tough questions, but he is neglecting his duties. Let us never allow someone like him to have this power.  Let's not let our micro-differences prevent us from macro changes. Our political process needs you now more than ever.

Neighborhood News

I had fun selling raffle tickets to benefit Wil-Mar and The Goodman Center.

I had fun selling raffle tickets to benefit Wil-Mar and The Goodman Center.

  • Congrats to Marquette Neighborhood Association on a wildly successful Waterfront Fest. The money raised will be benefitting many organizations right here in our district.

  • There is an opening on the SASY Neighborhood Association. Please attend the next meeting at the Goodman Center on Thursday, July 12th at 6:30 and throw your hat in the ring!

  • Mark your calendar for the Summer Solstice Bonfire & Picnic! Olbrich Park, Sunday, June 24. Picnicking & Music from 4 PM.  Bonfire lighting at 8:00 PM.