Want to go for a swim? Dane County has a number of swimming opportunities. Check out the websites below to find beaches and up-to-date information on beach conditions:
- Public Health Madison and Dane County website - information about beaches throughout Dane County, including beach closings.
- Clean Lakes Alliance's beach forecast website - uses citizen monitoring data to provide up-to-date information about beach conditions for the Yahara chain of lakes.
Mendota County Park Clean Beach Treatment System
In 2016, the Dane County Land and Water Resources Department installed a Clean Beach Treatment System at Mendota County Park. This system uses a chemical-free process to provide safe, clean water for users and minimize beach closings due to algae and E. coli.
A five-sided barrier (floating boom) made of impermeable plastic encloses a protected, clean swimming area within the lake. Beach water is pumped to an onshore treatment facility which cleans the water using a strainer, sand filter, and UV disinfection. The treated water is then returned to the swimming area.
While Dane County and many partners are working to clean up the Yahara lakes through decades-long collaborations, projects like the Clean Beach Treatment System allow families to enjoy our beautiful lakes right now.
Visit the Dane County Parks website to find out more about Mendota County Park and to get directions.
Floating Boom Systems
While the ultimate solution to healthy water is reducing the level of nutrients and other contaminants – efforts that are the centerpiece of past and ongoing watershed management programs – floating booms and enclosed swimming beaches offer safe, clean swimming spaces throughout the summer. Before these systems were installed for public use, a pilot-scale project was installed to test if they could prevent scums and other floating debris from fouling public swimming beaches. These experimental boom systems were deployed on lakes Mendota and Monona during the summers of 2010-2012. The results of these three-year experiments are in the report "Floating booms to prevent blue-green algal scums and other floating debris from fouling Madison area swimming beaches: a pilot test (PDF)"