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Intro


Restoring the Root-Pike Basin Watersheds

Pike River, Root River, Oak Creek,
Pike Creek, and Wind Point Watersheds

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Intro


Restoring the Root-Pike Basin Watersheds

Pike River, Root River, Oak Creek,
Pike Creek, and Wind Point Watersheds

above: Pike River Wetland Restoration in Mount Pleasant
 

Action

We have plans. Let's restore these rivers.

 

Who We Are

The Root-Pike basin has significant water quality issues. Root-Pike Watershed Initiative Network’s (Root-Pike WIN) mission is to restore, protect and sustain all the watersheds in the Root-Pike basin. More than two decades ago, we were founded by a cooperative effort with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to address specific issues within the Root-Pike basin. In 2001, we became a 501c3 non-profit. Since inception, we have initiated and helped complete more than a half a million dollars in education, restoration, and monitoring projects. Today, we continue to provide education, implementation and monitoring to landowners, municipalities and the general public. We are the catalyst for projects that improve the land – and water – in the Root-Pike basin.

 

What We Do

Root-Pike WIN has detailed plans based on cooperative input to address watershed issues. We also have the passion and expertise to put the plans’ recommendations into action. These plans are based on the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Nine-element Watershed Restoration Planning guidelines. Pike River, Root River and Wind Point watersheds have completed plans in place while Oak Creek and Pike Creek are still in the planning process. EPA-approved plans represent years of cooperative efforts, trusted environmental research and significant community involvement. With these plans, Root-Pike WIN is improving water quality, reducing runoff and pollutant loads, slowing the velocity of water volume, restoring natural habitats, and creating places where people want to be.

 

WHERE We Serve

Root-Pike WIN services the Root-Pike basin, which covers nearly 327 square miles of Southeastern Wisconsin. Included in the Root-Pike basin is the Pike River, Root River, Oak Creek, Pike Creek and Wind Point watersheds. These watersheds encompass more than 200 miles of streams and tributaries, which have changed the landscape and have been changed over many years. Today, the Root-Pike basin and it’s numerous tributaries are increasingly threatened by growth and urbanization. Over 1.6 million residents from Kenosha, Milwaukee, Racine and Waukesha Counties interact with and impact this watershed daily. Our reach also extends into the coastal areas and beaches of Lake Michigan where we also help educate on pollution reduction and assist with restoration projects.

 

Who We Help

  • Municipalities – Helping leaders and technicians become more aware of watershed issues and implement Nine-element plan recommendations in concert with their own development and environmental objectives
  • Private Landowners – Educating and guiding private citizens – from farmers to homeowners – through project planning, design, permitting, easements, implementation, monitoring and maintenance
  • Citizens of the Basin – Bringing awareness to watershed issues and helping implement best practices to reduce pollution and improve habitats
  • Other Non-profit Groups – Providing information, cooperative analysis and prioritized projects to increase results and reduce duplicative efforts
  • Governmental Agencies – Working collaboratively to advance watershed goals, implement best practices and connect stakeholders with solutions and funding

 

Join us in restoring the Root River, Pike River, Oak Creek, Pike Creek & Wind Point Watershed.

 
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Issues


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Issues


 

Issues

The Root-Pike basin suffers from a number of issues born from
more than 150 years of growth and misuse. Root-Pike WIN is solely focused on taking on these issues and improving the basin with recommendations from EPA-approved, 9-key element
Watershed Restoration Plans.

 
 
Fueled by phosphorus and nitrogen, algae overruns the Pike Creek in Kenosha.

Fueled by phosphorus and nitrogen, algae overruns the Pike Creek in Kenosha.

PHOSPHORUS AND NITROGEN FROM RUNOFF


Nutrients such as phosphorus and nitrogen, pollutants consistently exceeding recommended criteria for the Root-Pike basin, are a necessary component of plant growth and are therefore included in many fertilizers. Unfortunately, both have adverse effects on water quality, with phosphorus being particularly detrimental to aquatic systems in excess quantities. These nutrients are applied as fertilizer, either in an agricultural setting or by applicators or residents and the excess nutrients not absorbed by plants are then washed into waterways. Excess nutrients can cause algal blooms, accelerated plant growth, decreasing oxygen levels and even fish kills.


SUSPENDED SOLIDS (SEDIMENT) FROM RUNOFF

Highly-eroded stream banks and limited riparian barriers, where farm land meets tributaries, produces significant amounts of sediment to make their way into our streams and rivers. Sediment negatively affects aquatic habitats, reduces water quality, creates impediments and negatively affects our beaches, coasts and harbors.

Sediment from farmland and stream bank erosion accumulates in Mill Pond in South Milwaukee.

Sediment from farmland and stream bank erosion accumulates in Mill Pond in South Milwaukee.


The Horlick Dam in Racine impedes fish passage and traps sediment loads upstream.

The Horlick Dam in Racine impedes fish passage and traps sediment loads upstream.

MAN-MADE ImPEDIMENTS

Dams have become an issue of concern because they contribute to sedimentation, which increases phosphorous levels and also raises water temperature and lowers the levels of dissolved oxygen necessary for fish and aquatic organisms to thrive. Dams also interrupt and disconnect the river system. While dams can provide some protection from aquatic invasive species, they are not a complete barrier.


STREAM BANK CHANNELIZATION AND EROSION

Stream banks along critical reaches are highly eroded and channelized and are a major contributor of sediment and phosphorus. Water quality and habitat can be improved by restoring these areas using bio-engineering stabilization that relies on plants and plant material.

Sloughing banks add sediment to the main branch of the Pike River within Petrifying Springs Park in Kenosha.

Sloughing banks add sediment to the main branch of the Pike River within Petrifying Springs Park in Kenosha.


Deicing roads makes for safer travel, but contaminates runoff and destroys ecosystems

Deicing roads makes for safer travel, but contaminates runoff and destroys ecosystems

Chloride from Salting Roadways

Excess chlorides are also a concern for the Root-Pike basin. A common practice in snowy states such as Wisconsin is the application of road salts and deicers as a means to protect public safety on roadways. Typical deicers contain chloride ions that can affect the reproduction of fish and other aquatic animals. Waters with a high salinity are also denser, sinking to the bottom of water bodies, impairing water circulation and effecting oxygen levels. As deicers are spread, those chemicals are also harmful to the adjacent vegetation along roads.


Dog poop that is not properly disposed of can pollute our waterways with bacteria, nutrients and lower dissolved oxygen levels.

Dog poop that is not properly disposed of can pollute our waterways with bacteria, nutrients and lower dissolved oxygen levels.

bacteria and parasites from pet waste

Pollutants from improperly disposed pet waste may be washed into local storm sewers by rain or melting snow. When pet waste is washed into lakes or streams the waste decays, using up oxygen and sometimes releasing ammonia. Low oxygen levels and ammonia combined with warm temperatures can kill fish. Pet waste also contains nutrients that encourage weed and algae growth. Overly fertile water becomes cloudy and green –unattractive for swimming, boating and fishing. Perhaps most importantly, pet waste carries diseases which make water unsafe for swimming or drinking. When pet waste is disposed of improperly, not only water quality suffers – your health may be at risk, too. Pets, children who play outside, and adults who garden are most at risk for infection from some of the bacteria and parasites found in pet waste.


Americans love green lawns but fertilizers and pesticides can wreck havoc on water quality.

Americans love green lawns but fertilizers and pesticides can wreck havoc on water quality.

runoff pollution from homeowner actions

What we do on our own properties has an effect on water quality. Inside the home, flushing unwanted medicines down the drain or toilet can pollute our rivers and lake with harmful chemicals. Keeping a leaking car on the driveway leads to oil washing into the storm sewers and washing a car on the driveway adds unnecessary wastewater to the storm sewer system. On the lawn, neglecting to do a soil test, using pesticides or fertilizers, or placing leaves or grass clippings at the curb can all contribute to water pollution. In addition, directing our downspouts onto impervious driveways can increase the amount and speed of stormwater reaching the sewers, increasing erosion of our rivers and the rate at which pollutants are carried to our waterways.

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Improvements


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Improvements


Improvements

Root-Pike WIN is helping create and implement plans to improve the quality of the five watersheds in Southeastern Wisconsin. This set of solutions is born from cooperation and coordination with public and private stakeholders, and guided by recommendations found in EPA-approved, 9-key element plans specific to each watershed.

 

Help us. DONATE. Volunteer. Promote OUR Efforts.