Watershed Restoration Strategy

Plans often collect dust. We’re here to create action.

How we manage our land is a good indication of our water quality. The Root-Pike Basin in southeastern Wisconsin is not healthy and has degraded over several decades. Watershed Restoration Plans are a comprehensive resource developed to provide a set of specific, targeted recommendations to improve rivers and their tributaries. 

Root-Pike WIN believes the best way to achieve our mission is to work with stakeholders in the basin to move these plans' recommendations into action. Our strategy is driven by our mission: to restore, protect and sustain the Root River, Pike River, Oak Creek, Pike Creek and Wind Point watersheds. Our approach is to work with private citizens, community groups, the DNR, and municipal stakeholders to implement the EPA-approved, nine element Watershed Restoration Plans (WRP) in the Root-Pike basin. Our value is providing communication and collaboration which might not ordinarily occur among landowners, funders, the Department of Natural Resources and engineers. 

Watershed Restoration Plans are developed to meet the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Nine Elements for a Watershed Plan. The elements specify requirements that include identifying the causes of pollutants, describing watershed management measures and timelines for implementation, estimating costs, setting milestones and criteria for plan progress, and information and education.

Root River Planning Session (SEWRPC)

Root River Planning Session (SEWRPC)


Organizing public and private restoration recommendations for improvement

Using existing plans and recent scientific data from various trustworthy sources, Root-Pike WIN works with qualified watershed restoration planners to lead an Advisory Group of experts and Stakeholder Group of numerous interested parties. Together, they work cooperatively to develop specific, targeted recommendations to improve water quality, recreational access and use, and habitat conditions, while reduce flooding. These water quality recommendations include measures to reduce the levels of sediment, phosphorus, bacteria, and other pollutants. Once the plan is complete, the Plan is reviewed by the Department of the Natural Resources (DNR) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Once the plan is approved, Root-Pike WIN encourages municipalities to adopt the plan and work cooperatively with us to move recommendations into design and implementation.

Pike River North Branch Restoration (Oakes & Sons)

Pike River North Branch Restoration (Oakes & Sons)


Initiating public and private restoration projects and programs

No single stakeholder has the financial or technical resources to implement the plan alone. Rather, it will require working together and using the strengths of individual stakeholders to successfully implement each plan. That is the role of Root-Pike WIN -- to be the catalyst for action among stakeholders and landowners. Plans outline the actions that should be taken by the various levels and agencies of government in concert with private sector organizations if the recommended watershed restoration plan is to be fully carried out. Root-Pike WIN recruits “champions” within each municipality and other stakeholder groups to actively implement the plans’ recommendations. We also work with these champions to identify their other team members to help convert plan recommendations into real projects. Finally, we help educate private landowners as to the restoration possibilities on their land, and then shepherd them through the design, conservation easement, construction, monitoring and maintenance process.

Respect Our Waters public education events

Respect Our Waters public education events

Education & public outreach

informing best practices for citizens and officials to implement

Watershed Restoration Plans recommend that campaigns be designed to enhance understanding of the issues, problems, and opportunities within Root-Pike basin. The intention is to promote general acceptance and stakeholder participation in selecting, designing, and implementing recommended Management Measures to improve watershed conditions. Our goal is to first raise awareness among stakeholders of watershed issues, problems, and opportunities. The second step is to provide stakeholders with information and recommendations to implement to address the issues, problems, and opportunities. In addition to informing basin stakeholders, Root-Pike WIN also takes on a leadership role in promoting the "Respect Our Waters" mass media campaign and the Southeastern Wisconsin Clean Water Network's targeted municipal storm water engineer education program. These programs supplement, and often overlap, the education and outreach intentions of each plan. We want to inform and influence our communities on ways we can all contribute to cleaner water.

Beach monitoring  (City of Racine)

Beach monitoring (City of Racine)

MONITORING: Water, Habitat & Social

Involving means and methods to prove the value of restoration efforts

Watershed Restoration Plans provide benchmarks and recommendations for physical and chemical monitoring, biological monitoring, habitat monitoring and social indicators. Root-Pike WIN helps organize, fund and implement these data collection efforts. When data is received, it will be compared to criteria (indicators & targets) related to established water quality objectives. Water and habitat monitoring in the Root-Pike Basin is currently monitored under WDNR, Racine Health Department, University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee, Carthage College, and Citizens Monitoring programs. Social monitoring is subjective, but does help define social indicators as standards of comparison that describe the context, capacity, skills, knowledge, values, beliefs, and behaviors of individuals, households, organizations, and communities at various geographic scales. Root-Pike WIN takes responsibility for coordinating, funding and implementing monitoring programs in cooperation with the aforementioned organizations. As projects come online, we'll increase the frequency of these monitoring efforts to prove success.