Village address water issues

An aerial drone shot of Lake Barney depicts how water overflow affected the Rotary Bike Trail in 2018. That situation has gotten worse in 2019, and doesn’t look like its going to get any better without intervention.

City of Fitchburg

The City of Fitchburg is one step closer to understanding how groundwater levels contribute to significant flooding near its southern border.

At their Tuesday, July 28, meeting, city alders unanimously approved an intergovernmental agreement with the state Department of Corrections to place two groundwater monitoring wheels near Lake Barney on its land. The wells were recommended by St. Paul-based consultant Emmons and Olivier Resources, Inc. to collect data and find solutions to mitigate Lake Barney flooding.

Lake Barney, which sits near the top of the Badfish Creek Watershed, grew from the 32-acre body it was 33 years ago to around 800 acres during times of heavy rains, which has continued to cause problems for Fitchburg and Oregon residents. In addition to the individual costs to keep the water at bay, the glacial kettle has also put pressure on the water table, causing fields to flood and drowning out the roots of trees that predate the Revolutionary War.

Downstream, in the Village of Oregon, flooding has caused Netherwood Road to close down multiple times in the last two-and-a-half years, causing stormwater issues for people living around Lerner Park.

The first well would be placed on the eastern side of the lake, and the second would be placed near the border for the city and the town, according to a map in the committee packet.

Those wells would need to be placed on land owned by the state Department of Corrections south of County Hwy. M, according to documents provided by the city, and require a land use agreement between the two entities to move forward.

The city is also working on finding solutions with the Town of Verona for Goose Lake, which has caused multiple instances of flooding in the past 20 years that have required the closure of Fitchrona Road.

Email reporter Kimberly Wethal at and follow her on Twitter @kimberly_wethal.