News from Cherokee Marsh: April 2008



The City resolutions authorizing purchase of land to add to Cherokee Marsh Conservation Park passed the Board of Parks Commissioners and the Board of Estimates and will go back to the Common Council on April 22.


Weather permitting, the City is planning to burn prairies and other areas in the North and South units of Cherokee Marsh Conservation Park this spring. Burning kills off many undesirable and invasive species while leaving fire-hardy natives unharmed.


If you would like to help with a survey of breeding birds in the marsh, contact Jan Axelson (241-5828) or for more information, see:


(This item is also in the April/May issue of the Northside News.)

Did you know that nearly all of our drinking water in Dane County comes from the ground? Even much of the bottled water in stores and restaurants originated as groundwater.

In March, the Friends of Cherokee Marsh sponsored a talk about our groundwater by Kenneth Bradbury of the Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Survey and UW Extension.

We learned that groundwater is water stored in soil or rocks beneath the earth’s surface. Under the surface of southern Wisconsin is a layer of ancient sandstone. At Madison, the layer is over 600 feet thick.

The sandstone is riddled with tiny holes that easily absorb and release water. Water that filters down into the sandstone fills the holes, creating an underground reservoir. Some of the water under southern Wisconsin has been there for thousands of years.

Dane County’s water utilities and wells pump 50 million gallons of groundwater per day. (Most of the water used by Madison’s North side comes from Well 13 on Wheeler Road.) Pumping has caused the groundwater level under Madison to drop 60 feet. Because of the lowered levels, some of the springs that once provided clean groundwater to the Yahara River are now dry.

As development increases, water use increases. To conserve groundwater, don’t waste it! Water lawns and gardens only when needed. Lawns can survive on as little as 1/4 inch of rain per month. Plant varieties of trees, shrubs, flowers, and grasses that can tolerate periods of drought. Consider installing water-conserving faucets, showers, toilets, dishwashers, and washing machines.

Conservation efforts like these will help preserve the groundwater supply we depend on.