Milwaukee and Sheboygan River Basins

Friends of Milwaukees Rivers

This group began monitoring with WAV methods in 2006. They also monitor crayfish and streams using level 2 methods. The mission of Friends of Milwaukee’s Rivers is to protect water quality and wildlife habitat and advocate sound land use in the Milwaukee, Menomonee, and Kinnickinnic River Watersheds. FMR is a non-profit organization founded in 1995, and is a member of the Waterkeeper Alliance and the licensed Riverkeeper for Milwaukee. They work with UWEX and WDNR on both Level 1 and Level 3 monitoring, and with WDNR and River Alliance of Wisconsin on the Level 2 monitoring. They also partner with Riveredge Nature Center to help train and equip volunteers in the northern part of the Milwaukee River Watershed.

In 2007 there are 41 citizens monitoring using WAV methods (and 20 who use level 2 methods) at between 48 and 71 sites in the Milwaukee River Basin. They monitor portions of the Milwaukee River, the Menomonee River and the Kinnickinic River. Prior to FMR’s monitoring efforts there were a variety of monitoring projects ongoing, but these were not coordinated. A full report about historical citizen monitoring in the Basin and a map of 2006 sites is available at the Friends of Milwaukee Rivers website (click on what we do and then citizen-based water quality monitoring). Cheryl Nenn coordinates the monitoring efforts for this group.

Pigeon River Water Action Volunteers

The Pigeon River Water Action Volunteers began stream monitoring in 1996 as one of the pilot programs for WAV citizens stream monitoring. The program was later incorporated into goals of the Pigeon River Priority Watershed Project (completed in October 2001). Goals of that program included developing awareness of the Watershed Project within the community and increasing appreciation of the water resource. Rural property owners, community groups and youth groups were all targeted as key groups to involve in the program.

In 2001, the Pigeon River WAV group had 15 volunteers monitoring as many sites within the Pigeon River Watershed of Manitowoc and Sheboygan Counties. These volunteers monitored sites along Fisher Creek, Spring Creek, Meeme Creek, and the Pigeon River. They monitor temperature, transparency , dissolved oxygen, habitat and biotic index on a seasonal basis (May-October). Many monitors also assessed precipitation on a daily basis and built up a tremendous database of precipitation records for the watershed. Other monitors were extremely dedicated, monitoring daily, weekly, or for several days following storm events and even into the winter.  Today, only one site in the watershed, Pigeon River at Mill Road is actively monitored.  It is one of the longest continually monitored sites in the state in the WAV program.  The monitors at that site also participated in the level 3 E. coli bacteria monitoring project during 2005 and 6.

To learn more about the results of these volunteers' efforts, go to the citizen stream monitoring database and search for results by creek name or by Manitowoc or Sheboygan County, in which these citizens monitor.

The program is sponsored by the Sheboygan and Manitowoc County Land and Water Conservation Departments, the Ellwood H. May Environmental Center, UW-Extension, and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. The local contact for the program is Rebecca Westfahl.

Riveredge Water Quality Monitors and Riveredge Water Education Resource Center

This group began monitoring in 1997 to provide the community with resources, equipment, training and expertise for understanding and improving water quality and the quality of live in the Milwaukee River Watershed. It was initially coordinated by both the Ozaukee and Washington County Land Conservation Departments along with Riveredge. Now Riveredge has teamed up with Friends of Milwaukee’s Rivers to provide training and equipment for this program. About 10 people monitor with the group in 2007 on six stream sites in both the Milwaukee Basin as well as the Rock River Basin. Rivers monitored include: Rock River, Lincoln Creek, and the Milwaukee River. They monitor at least twice a year for all of the WAV level 1 parameters as well as pH. Riveredge also sponsors a level 3 ephemeral pond monitoring project and some volunteers participate with level 2 stream monitoring as well. Mary Holleback coordinates these efforts.

SPASH Summer Field Studies (SFS) - Milwaukee River Study

The SFS Milwaukee River Study developed by Vic Akemann and Tim Corcoran (also a SPASH instructor) is conducted to track the water quality of the Milwaukee River watershed over time by making periodic measurements by students of the SPASH/UWSP Summer Field Studies Program (a Partnership between the Stevens Point Area School District and UWSP). It began in 1991. The study attempts to assist students in understanding how to successfully develop an experimental design and analysis project. Part of the process in the study gives students the opportunity to identify and suggest solutions toward correcting issues that have arisen through regular monitoring and scientific inquiry. The location of the project spans the entire Milwaukee watershed from the headwaters to the Harbor in Milwaukee, WI. Five sites in the Milwaukee River Watershed are monitored. For more information contact Vic Akemann.

Testing the Waters- Milwaukee River

This monitoring program began in 1990.  The goals of the program are to a) introduce high school students in the Milwaukee River Basin to river ecology and water quality issues & testing techniques, b) promote environmental stewardship, and c) encourage responsible citizenship. The first year there were thirteen high schools who tested and submitted data.  Over the years, 37 high schools within the Basin have been involved in this program.  As of 2007, 15 high schools are actively collecting data with over 825 students participating.  Each school monitors one site within the Milwaukee River Basin in Milwaukee or Washington Counties on approximately the same day during the fall and spring. Together they monitor all of the branches of the Milwaukee River, the Menomonee and Little Menomonee Rivers, Quass Creek, Cedar Creek, and Grandtosa Creek. 

The students in this program monitor primarily using protocols found in the Field Manual for Water Quality Monitoring, by Mark Mitchell and William Stapp. They monitor ten parameters: biochemical oxygen demand, total suspended solids, fecal coliforms, total phosphorus, nitrates, dissolved oxygen, transparency, temperature, pH, and biotic index (WAV’s method). Each year students and teachers come together in the fall for a training session and orientation to the Milwaukee River Basin.  They meet again in the spring for a student conference to share and compare their data results throughout the watershed. They also have the opportunity to learn about other issues of importance in water quality including invasive species, agricultural and residential best management practices, and wildlife.  Some of the data from the group is entered into the citizen stream monitoring database.  Search by Milwaukee or Washington Counties, then look for sites marked as “Testing the Waters” sites.

Testing the Waters (TTW) was originally created through a partnership of nine organizations.  Of those nine groups the Wisconsin Dept. of Natural Resources funded the programs through a grant for the first ten years.  Since then a variety of other funders have stepped forward.  The current funder and member of the Steering Committee is the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District.  Riveredge Nature Center has been the project coordinator for TTW almost since its inception.  Other members of the Steering Committee include: Havenwoods Environmental Awareness Center, S.E. Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission, University of WI Extension, Wehr Nature Center, WI Dept. of Natural Resources, Slinger High School, University School of Milwaukee, West Bend West High School, and Menomonee Falls High School.   Mary Holleback at the Riveredge Nature Center coordinates the program and can be contacted for more information or visit the Riveredge Nature Center website at  TTW can be found under Programs/Outreach.

Riveredge also has Level 1 WAV adult citizen monitors and the Nature Center has been participating in the statewide Ephemeral Pond monitoring project for two years.

photo of monitorsUlao Creek Partnership

The Ulao Creek Partnership was created in 1995 and citizen stream monitoring was initiated in 1999, though as of 2007, no citizen stream monitoring is currently conducted in the watershed.  If you are interested in monitoring in the area, contact Tom Dueppen.

The Partnership is dedicated to protecting and improving water quality and natural habitats in the Ulao Creek Watershed of Ozaukee County, Wisconsin. Goals of the Partnership are to restore and enhance the creek's natural resources, improve water quality, promote comprehensive watershed planning based on land use, natural resource protection, and enhancement, and to stabilize/moderate water flows in the watershed. map of Ulao Creek Watershed

Ulao Creek is located in southeastern Wisconsin and its watershed spans 16 square miles. The area was formerly primarily agricultural, but now is becoming more developed due to an expanding suburban area around Milwaukee. The creek drains to the Milwaukee River. In 1999, five sites along Ulao Creek were monitored by as many volunteers. These citizens monitored all WAV parameters on a seasonal basis.  

The data are not stored in the WAV online database.  Contact Tom Dueppen, the local program coordinator, to find out about results of monitoring to date. An informative web site is available to learn more about the Ulao Creek Partnership as well.

Many organizations partner to make the Ulao Creek Partnership a success. These include Ozaukee County Land Conservation Department, Cedarburg Science, Northern Environmental, UW-Milwaukee, UW-Extension, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, the Ozaukee and Washington County Land Trust, the Botanical garden, Natural Resources Conservation Service, WI Electric, Union Pacific Railroad, and a number of private landowners.

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