Dane County Land & Water Resources begins to transition lakes for the upcoming winter season

September 25, 2015
Pete Jopke, Dane County AIS Coordinator (608) 224-3733 Erika Hotchkiss, Marketing & Outreach Coordinator (608) 212-6358
Land & Water Resources

It’s that time of year again… temperatures begin to drop, trees change color, and Dane County begins to prepare the Yahara Chain of Lakes for the upcoming winter season.  Dane county would like to remind boaters and lake front property owners that the lakes will be lowered to summer minimums beginning October 1st  and transition to winter operating levels stating on November 1st. The annual winter lake level draw down is intended to prevent shoreline ice damage and allow for flood storage capacity after the spring runoff.


Dane County annually places over 160 buoys in the Yahara River and Lakes to aid boaters with navigation and help to identify hazards.  The removal of buoys will start October 1st and complete by November 1st. With this in mind, lake users are asked to use caution and be on the alert for underwater hazards that may damage watercraft.


Dane County Tenney Lock, located on the Yahara River between Lakes Mendota and Monona, will open on weekends between 12:00 noon and 6:00 p.m., until October 31st, the last day of the season.



  • October 1st – Transition of lake levels to summer minimum.
  • October 1st  - November 1st.  Removal of navigational buoys.
  • November 1st -  Transition of lake levels to winter operating range.
  • November 1st – Removal of piers at county access sites. (Access piers at Babcock on Lake Waubesa will remain in place and open until winter.)  
  • November 1st - Tenney Lock closed for the season.


Dane County would also like to remind boat owners, lake residents and contractors when removing their piers, docks and boats from the water, to check for any zebra mussels that might have attached themselves to equipment while submerged in water over the summer.  Zebra mussels can clog water intakes and pipes, encrust piers, boats, and motors, and their sharp shells can cut the feet of swimmers  The high recreational use of the Yahara Chain of Lakes and its close proximity to other popular waterbodies, increases the risk that zebra mussels or aquatic invasive species are transported by boat to Dane County waters.


If zebra mussels or other invasive species are found:

· Check that the invasive species has not been previously found on the waterbody by visiting


· Note the exact location where the animal was found.

· Take a digital photo of the animal in the setting where it was found (if possible). Then collect up to five specimens of varying sizes. Place in a jar with water; put on ice and transport to refrigerator.

· Contact Pete Jopke, Dane County AIS Coordinator at 608-224-3733.
Responding quickly to detection of  AIS  is critical to help curb the spread into other waterbodies.


For more information please see the following links:


To learn more about zebra mussels or Wisconsin aquatic invasive species regulations visit: www.dnr.wi.gov keyword “invasive species”.


To read more about how Dane County is working to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species visit: www.danewaters.com/


Current lake levels are  updated daily and can be found at: https://www.countyofdane.com/lwrd/landconservation/lakelevelpg.aspx


Tenney lock hours can be found at:  https://pdf.countyofdane.com/lwrd/parks/Tenney_Lock_Schedule.pdf


Dane County Waters Information: https://www.countyofdane.com/lwrd/


Dane County Lake Access and Tenney Lock Permits available at: https://www.reservedane.com/permits.aspx


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