Large Sewage Spill Near Cherokee Marsh and Yahara River

Madison, WI  November 28, 2014–The Madison Metropolitan Sewerage District (MMSD) reported on Wednesday November 26, that a contractor doing work for the utility earlier this month accidentally released about “500,000 gallons of untreated wastewater near Cherokee Golf Course”, according to a story by Dean Mossman in the Wisconsin State Journal. Click here for the WSJ story.

The spill site on Golf Parkway is between 200 feet and 800 feet from an un-named stream that flows through the City’s Cherokee Marsh Conservation Park before entering the Yahara River below Cherokee Lake/Cherokee Park; the spill site is about one-half mile from Cherokee Lake which is bordered by Cherokee Marsh Conservation Park.

The spill  happened November 16 when the contractor, Ric-Man of Sterling Heights, Michigan, was re-lining a sewage interceptor on Golf Parkway on the City’s north side.  In the WSJ story  the spill was said to have “sent the wastewater into low-lying areas and ditches along Golf Parkway. It also damaged the lower levels of four nearby condominium units, chief engineer and director D. Michael Mucha said.”   Mucha also said the spill was “significant” and that MMSD is concerned about it.  You can read the MMSD press release by clicking here.

Threat to a Wisconsin Wetland Gem

Describing the untreated sewage spill as flowing “into low-lying areas and ditches along Golf Parkway”, and saying the spill was near Cherokee Country Club–while true–sort of understates the potential significance and possible far-reaching impacts of the sewage spill.   Cherokee Marsh is rated one of the top 100 wetlands and wetland complexes in Wisconsin and has received the designation of a statewide Wetland Gem by the  Wisconsin Wetlands Association (WWA).  Read the Cherokee Marsh Wetland Gem profile here.

Cherokee Marsh is one of the largest wetlands in Dane County and is visited each year by thousands of Madison area residents and  utilized by students from throughout the city and county on environmental education trips.

Besides being an important site for outdoor recreation for Dane County residents, an extensive and important wildlife habitat area, and site of important ecological restoration work, Cherokee Mash protects the water quality for Madison residents.  An estimated 50% of the drinking water supply for Madison flows past this point of the Cherokee Marsh and the Yahara River–water that originates up-stream in the Towns of Burke and Windsor from spring flows and groundwater discharges that form Token Creek and the Yahara River.  Wetland complexes such as Cherokee Marsh do protect water quality–to an extent–by filtering out impurities, but no wetland is capable of handling 500,000 gallons of untreated sewage wastewater.




About Steve Glass

The blogger is a restoration ecologist, Certified Ecological Restoration Practitioner (#0093 SER) and writer living in the Midwestern United States.
This entry was posted in Cherokee Marsh Conservation Park, Token Creek, Token Creek Watershed, Watershed protection, Wetland Gems, Wisconsin Wetlands Association and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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