2022 DNR Water Conditions List: How does it impact the Rock River Basin?

In our September E-Newsletter we shared the newest publication of the Wisconsin DNR’s Water Conditions List. This list is created every 2 years in compliance with the Clean Water Act. Wisconsin includes impaired waters, restoration waters, and healthy waters.

In the state of Wisconsin, more than 80% of lakes and rivers are considered healthy, in a trend that seems to be improving across the state. On the other end, 92 new bodies of water or segments have been placed on the impaired list. As a result, these require a restoration plan to mitigate and improve the quality to acceptable standards.

In the recent  publishing, 115 new pollutants were identified and proposed. The majority of these are for phosphorus and bacteria, but it also includes E. coli, which is a relatively new criterion. Of these 115, 11 bodies of water will be directly placed on the restoration list, because they are covered by an existing restoration plan. On the plus side, 22 waters were removed from list.

To learn about how this impacts the Rock River Basin, and where we live, work, and play, click below.

How does this impact the Rock River Basin? You may remember the recent testing on Badfish Creek due to unacceptable levels of E. coli or you have likely seen the influx of algal blooms on the lakes around Madison each year. Even more recently, the concerning levels of (Perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances) PFAS on Starkweather Creek and Lake Monona is starting to hit the news. These are all due to the aforementioned pollutants, which impact our access and use of clean, safe water.

The data collected by Rock River Coalition (RRC) stream monitor volunteers also contributes directly to this water conditions list. All water quality data that RRC collects is entered in the WDNR’s database, where it is used by WDNR scientists who determine which waterbodies are impaired and for what pollutants. This year, Sixmile Creek and the West Branch of Starkweather Creek are being listed as contaminated with total phosphorus. This listing follows years of dedicated nutrient sampling by our volunteers, with support from Yahara WINS and the Madison Metropolitan Sewerage District.

Wildcat Creek and Neda Creek in Dodge County are also being newly listed for total phosphorus pollution. While our volunteers just began monitoring those streams this year, their continued testing in future years will hopefully show progress as work is done to reduce nutrient runoff.

In addition to the waterbodies more familiar to us, Addie, our stream monitoring coordinator, put together the following list containing all of the newly listed waterbodies (including their pollutants) that are located within the Rock River Basin, including the two recent removals. Familiarize yourself with this list and those waters closest to where you live, recreate, or work, so you can safely navigate and be an informed consumer.

– Lake Koshkonong: E. coli
– Lake Mendota: E. coli
– Lake Monona: E. coli and PFOS
– Lake Ripley: E. coli
– Mud Creek: total phosphorus
– Neda Creek: total phosphorus
– Rock Creek: total phosphorus
– Rock Lake: E. coli
– Rock River: E. coli
– Sixmile Creek: total phosphorus
– Spring Brook: total phosphorus
– Spring Brook (a different one): E. coli
– Starkweather Creek: E. coli and PFOS

-West branch Starkweather Creek: total phosphorus and PFOS
– Tiedemans Pond: total phosphorus
– Unnamed trib to Turtle Creek: total phosphorus
– Unnamed trib to Wildcat Creek: total phosphorus
– Wildcat Creek: total phosphorus
– Wingra Creek: E. coli

– Yahara River: chloride
– Lake Mendota: PCBs

The DNR is requesting public comments in response to the published 2022 Water Conditions List until October 1. If you would like to comment, please direct those to the following address:

Department of Natural Resources 
c/o Ashley Beranek, Water Quality
P.O. Box 7921 Madison, WI 53707
If you would like to become a volunteer stream monitor, and help study the health of these streams, please contact: 

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