Last Updated: 05/25/2023

Project Update

3/28/2023 Update: 
The dredging portion of the Spring Harbor project was completed on Nov. 18, 2022.

Project Overview

Spring Harbor is a man-made harbor, located on the west side of the City of Madison along the shores of Lake Mendota. This harbor features an existing municipal public boat launch and fishing pier at City of Madison’s Spring Harbor Park.  Over the years, increased sedimentation and public and private access points have minimized opportunities for recreational boating and fishing.One of the impacts to the recreational use of this boat launch is that Spring Harbor also serves as a major outfall for a 19.5’ x 6’ storm sewer box culvert that drains 2,400 acre urban area of the Spring Harbor watershed. The outfall is located just east of the boat launch and directly discharges to Spring Harbor (see Figure 1).

Spring Harbor Dredge

The watershed served by this outfall was primarily developed prior to modern stormwater management practices such as retention and detention basins and as a result, the urban runoff discharging to the harbor carriers a reasonably large amount of sediment into the harbor at the boat launch. This is compounded by Madison’s primary use of sand versus salt for winter icing operations which contribute to the accumulated sediment deposited at this outfall into the harbor.  As a result, this harbor has a higher rate of siltation than would be otherwise experienced requiring routine dredging to maintain navigability of the existing channel for recreational boating and improved fishing habitat. As the channel and harbor silt in, users of the public boat launch and harbor residents with boat docks have trouble launching boats and navigating through Spring Harbor to access Lake Mendota and the fishing conditions decrease with continued siltation.

A hydrographic survey was conducted in May 2020 showing the average depth of the harbor was 2.5 feet. The City is  planning on dredging the entire length of Spring Harbor a minimum width of 25 feet wide on either side of the channel centerline (50ft width total), and creating a minimum channel depth of 8 feet to improve recreational boating opportunities.

The benefit of this dredge project is to extend the usefulness of the channel another 10 years or longer. The previous channel dredge did not fully excavate the materials to the lake proper and only provided for increased navigability near the launch itself, however the proposed project is intended to excavate a channel to a depth that would allow a wider range of boat types from the launch and from the private piers to access the channel and lake without concerns of running into the accumulated sediment. The dredging will undoubtedly allow for increased recreational use of the harbor, better water quality and aquatic habitat and also more access for Lake Mendota in general for fishing and recreation. If additional funding is available the project may allow for a wider width in the dredging.

Project Limits

Entire length of Spring Harbor channel from Lake Mendota Drive to Lake Mendota. Width will be a minimum of 25’ on either side of the channel centerline. A wider width will be determined by funding.

Project Schedule

Spring 2022-Summer 2022
Design Development: project planning, public outreach and involvement, permitting

Summer 2022- Fall 2022
Final Design: additional public outreach, finalizing project plans, special provisions, details, requesting approval from involved City Departments, Common Council and Board of Public Works. Advertising the project publicly to solicit competitive bids. Award the project.

Fall 2022-Winter 2022
Construction: the contractor will dredge the harbor according to plans and specifications and haul the material to the designated de-watering site in water tight trucks.

Winter 2022 - Spring 2023
De-watering and Disposal of Materials: the contractor will survey the de-watered dredge material for quantity and haul the material to the Dane County Landfill.

Public Involvement

There are a number of points of contact during this project where the public is encouraged to give feedback as part of public information meetings and public hearings. Dates, times and locations are indicated below:

Common Council

Summer 2022, more information will be posted when available.

Grant approval request to Common Council: May 18, 2021.

Board of Public Works

Summer 2022, more information will be posted when available.

Grant approval request to Board of Public Works: June 2, 2021.

Public Information Meetings

June 14, 2022 Public Information Meeting Recording

June 14, 2022 Public Information Meeting PowerPoint Presentation

Aug. 23, 2021 Public Information Meeting Recording

Aug. 23, 2021 Public Information Meeting PowerPoint Presentation

The City of Madison's Spring Harbor Watershed Study is nearing completion. The City hosted a third public information meeting for the Spring Harbor Watershed Study on June 30, 2021, virtually. During the meeting, information was shared about proposed engineered flood solutions throughout the Spring Harbor Watershed.During the June 30, 2021 Spring Harbor Watershed Study Public Information Meeting attendees asked several questions about the effects of the proposed solutions on erosion in City greenways and/or scouring at the harbor/outfall. City staff compiled a Frequently Asked Questions document to answer these questions: Spring Harbor Outfall Repair and Dredge FAQ. For more information about the related projects, you can view the Spring Harbor Outfall Repair project and the Spring Harbor Dredge project webpages.


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