Wisconsin county deploys scum-sucking tech to clean beachfront water

Good Thursday afternoon! The Midwest is in the grips of a heatwave and that naturally turns attention to cooling off at beaches. But the water near those beaches can get a bit gross as the temperature rises. Midwest lakes are prone to blue-green algae blooms, and the organisms thrive in heat. The algae isn’t just unpleasant to swim in, it can actually make humans and pets sick.

Yesterday Dane County, Wisconsin, which includes the city of Madison, announced new technology to suck the blue-green algae and other “scum” from its lakes.

  • An in-house team of lake management employees developed the technology. It includes an intake nozzle, piping, and an air-powered pump to create suction to draw in water and surface scum. The water flows through filter bags which collect plant material and trash while cleaned water flows back into the lake.
  • The Dane County Executive included $20,000 for this project in the 2018 budget. The technology currently is in the testing phase and Land & Water Resources Department is looking into additional ways to use it, a department spokesperson tells Centered. The department tests water samples before and after treatment to determine effectiveness.
  • The shoreline geometry and rocky banks at some Dane County beaches make them especially susceptible to trapping algae and other lake scum. Wind can push surface algae to the shore where it forms thick mats and traps other debris.
  • Blue-green algal scums must be removed with specialized pumping equipment because of their watery nature, compared with other debris or large weeds that can be manually removed.
  • The county also is expanding its “blue waters barge” shoreline clean-up effort in which a barge crew picks up aquatic vegetation and other debris at piers, storm outlets, and beaches. The weeds are used as compost.

***SPONSORED LINK: The Cleanie Awards — the #1 awards program in clean technology — is now accepting applications! Submit to win, or contact us with any questions. Applications close July 30.***

Today’s headlines:

🤝 PARTNERSHIP: Waukesha, Wisconsin-based Generac, an energy technology and power product designer and manufacturer, has partnered with cloud-based energy management platform Virtual Peaker on a licensing agreement. Integration with Virtual Peaker’s software will allow Generac’s energy storage systems to participate in utilities’ grid services programs in real time.

📈 EXPANSION: After examining locations in two states, AgEagle Aerial Systems decided to expand its manufacturing operations into Wichita, Kansas. The company develops drone-enabled aerial imagery and analytics solutions to help farmers manage their crops, use fewer chemicals, and preserve natural resources.

🍴 FOOD: Wisconsin Inno profiled Cultured Decadence, a Madison alternative meat startup that’s growing crustacean meat in the lab instead of harvesting seafood from waterways.


  • The University of Chicago’s 10th annual Summer Institute on Sustainability & Energy starts Monday, July 13. A couple sessions later next week will specifically cover the “U.S. Heartland.”
  • Milwaukee’s Summerfest Tech will be held on September 2 and includes sessions on accelerating regional technology adoption, startup growth strategy, and diversity and inclusion.
  • The OhioX Tech Tour launched yesterday and will take place every Wednesday through September. Each week focuses on the tech environment in a different Ohio city.

What other businesses and organizations are advancing tech in the Midwest? Send news tips, press releases, and feedback to katie@centered.tech or connect on LinkedIn and Twitter @centereddottech.

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