Wind Point Watershed Restoration Plan

Wind Point Watershed - View from Lighthouse Drive

Wind Point Watershed - View from Lighthouse Drive

Overview

The Wind Point Watershed is located in the extreme eastern portion of Racine County, north of the City of Racine, around the Village of Wind Point. Two unnamed perennial tributaries, totaling 4.4 miles, receive runoff from the watershed and drain a combined area of almost 19 square miles. Land cover for the Wind Point Watershed is pretty evenly split between urban and rural. Urban land uses account for 36 percent of the water basin. Rural uses include 20 percent grassland, 19 percent agriculture, and 14 percent forest. Other uses include shrubland (4%), and wetland (2%). The streams support forage fish communities. The remainder of the watershed is overland flow. The watershed has a considerable urban component. Residential development varies in lot sizes and the watershed further consists of parks, other open space, light industrial use, a coal plant, and sanitary facility. Its locally famous lighthouse is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

 

Issues

  • Modeling suggests that streambank erosion contributes the most to sediment loading, cropland is the highest contributor of nitrogen, and residential areas contribute the most phosphorus.
  • 66% of tributary reaches are moderately to highly channelized.
  • 14% of tributary reaches are moderately to highly eroded as a result of headcutting.
  • 74% of detention basins are not designed for water quality benefits.
  • “Traditional” development trends over the past 30 years generally did not incorporate groundwater infiltration practices.
  • Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission (SEWRPC) modeling suggests that deep water aquifers are experiencing excessive drawdown.
  • Nearly 85% of the watershed was forested historically; only 4% remains.
  • There were 2,945 acres of wetlands prior to European settlement; 577 acres or 20% remain.
  • 45% of tributary buffers are in poor ecological condition.
  • Bluffs along sections of Lake Michigan are experiencing accelerated erosion.
  • Development policy among the communities does not adequately protect green infrastructure.
  • Over 2,000 acres of open space is predicted to be developed in the future.
  • 16 of 24 subwatersheds are or will likely be highly impacted by impervious cover.
  • A 2010 SEWRPC study estimates a 9,239 (18%) population increase by 2035.
  • 14% of the population in Racine is below poverty level.
  • 42 “Critical Areas” were identified that could cost over 10 million dollars to address.

 

Planning

The Wind Point Watershed Restoration Plan, completed in July 2015, is the first Nine Element plan for the watershed, which comprises portions of Racine and Milwaukee Counties and the Cities of Racine; Oak Creek, South Milwaukee and the Villages of Caledonia, North Bay, and Wind Point. This unique watershed has two unnamed perennial tributaries, totaling 4.4 miles, receive runoff from the watershed and drain a combined area of almost 19 square miles that outlets directly to Lake Michigan. 

The first year of the two-year development of the plan focused on engaging people from all walks of life through a series of meetings and online surveys culminating in a visioning session, where participants selected the priority areas for the plan. In the second year, a stakeholders group of interested citizens and public officials met regularly with a professional planning firm to advise and direct the development of this comprehensive watershed restoration plan. The completed plan was presented on July 16, 2015, at a public meeting held at the Wind Point Lighthouse. The complete final plan chapters and executive summary are available for download on this page.

 

Adoption

The Wind Point Watershed Restoration Plan has been submitted to the Department of Natural Resources for review. Once approved, the plan will then be reviewed by the Environmental Protection Agency for final approval. Despite still being in the approval process, the plan has already been adopted by the Village of Wind Point.

 

Implementation

Root-Pike WIN has begun implementing the Wind Point plan in cooperation with the Villages of Wind Point and Caledonia, and the City of Racine. Contact Dave Giordano, Executive Director, at dave@rootpikewin.org if you are interested in being a part of this effort.