GL Sanitary District is the local boots-on-the-ground lake protectors

Managing the Aqweed program, the GLSD helps reduce aquatic weeds in Green Lake and improves lake navigation. submitted photo

The task of protecting Big Green Lake requires the work of many people and organizations that serve as members of the lake management planning team.

 These local organizations — like the Green Lake Association (GLA), Green Lake Conservancy, Green Lake and Fond du Lac County land conservation departments and Green Lake Sanitary District — and larger, governmental partners — like Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and more —closely monitor Green Lake’s water quality and regularly implement best-management practices throughout the watershed. 

The cohort is dedicated to protecting Green Lake for the community to cherish today and, ultimately, improving its quality for future generations to enjoy.

The Green Lake Sanitary District (GLSD) is one entity invested in Green Lake’s water quality. Time and again, the GLSD has proven that it is willing to roll up its sleeves, put on its boots, and step up to meet the needs of Green Lake. 

For example, when the county could no longer sustain Green Lake’s Fish Rearing Facility, the GLSD stepped in, purchasing it for $1, according to GLSD commissioner Jerry Specht. The GLSD owns and operates the fish-stocking program, and support from many organizations, ensuring a healthy population of lake trout in Green Lake.

Working in partnership with the Green Lake Conservancy, the Green Lake Sanitary District helps maintain areas that provide community access to natural areas such as the Norwegian Bay boardwalk, which it can be seen repairing in the picture. submitted photo

When the need for monitoring became apparent, the GLSD got to work. The GLSD’s water-monitoring program includes weekly beach measurements of E. coli and indicators of toxic blue-green algae. 

“I think the water sampling is very important because people want to know that they’re safe and it’s OK to go in the water,” said GLSD administrator, Lisa Reas. 

The GLSD also sponsors the cost of high-quality USGS measurements of phosphorus, suspended sediment, water clarity, and temperature in Green Lake and several of its tributaries.

The GLSD and Green Lake Conservancy work closely together to manage several properties — comprised of environmentally sensitive areas, such as woods, waterfronts and wetlands. The GLSD even lent a hand in the Conservancy’s acquisition of Camp Grow, now called “Tichora Conservancy.”

By conserving these properties, managing invasive species and promoting natural habitats — in close partnership with the Green Lake Conservancy — the areas help protect Green Lake and provide community access to natural areas.

And when Green Lake’s long-term water quality problems began taking shape with increased aquatic plant growth, the GLSD purchased a harvester — and later, a second one — to manage the lake’s aquatic weed harvesting program.

Founded in 1964, the GLSD was created out of a recommendation of the GLA’s Board — then called the “Green Lake Property Owners Association” — to provide environmental protection through sanitation and waste management. 

To date, the GLSD coordinates solid-waste collection and oversees the treatment of wastewater from more than 1,400 homes. 

Over the years, however, the GLSD dedicated itself to much more than trash collection and wastewater treatment. 

“Providing sewer services and managing waste is extremely important to our customers, but our watershed protection and lake services are often what people are surprised about,” Reas said. 

With a mission to engage in activities that protect Green Lake and its watershed, the GLSD serves as a statewide model for an important and expanded role that sanitary districts can embrace.

While the GLSD certainly does a huge amount of work on behalf of the lake, it’s not all work and no play. The GLSD is also a member of the Green Team — a partnership between the GLSD, GLA, Green Lake Conservancy and Green Lake School District — to organize community events aimed at helping people explore and appreciate the beautiful natural landscapes in the area. 

For more than half a century, the GLSD has been managing, improving and restoring the surrounding land, air and water that impacts Big Green Lake. 

It’s clear to see why the Green Lake Sanitary District is considered a pillar in the community.

The Green Lake Association is a local not-for-profit that works to improve water quality for Green Lake.