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Milwaukee River near Cedarburg, Photo Courtesy of Milwaukee Sweetwater Trust.

Milwaukee River near Cedarburg, Photo Courtesy of Milwaukee Sweetwater Trust.

Contact information
For information on the Milwaukee River Basin, contact:
Sharon Gayan
Natural resources manager
414-263-8707

Milwaukee River Basin

Description

About the basin

The rivers, lakes, groundwater and lands in the Milwaukee River Basin sustain a wide range of plant and animal life. From the seemingly untouched areas within the Northern Unit of the Kettle Moraine State Forest to the areas near cities challenged by pollution and habitat modification, one thing remains constant: our land and water resources are forever linked. Our activities on the land have an effect not just at the point of origin, but ripple throughout the basin. The quality of our rivers, lakes and groundwater also has influence over what we do on the land.

Today we are challenged with finding ways to balance our use of land and water with our desire to protect, restore and enhance the natural resources in the Milwaukee River Basin. Building and maintaining strong partnerships with shared visions and goals are essential to striking this balance.

Basin resources

The Milwaukee River Basin is located in portions of seven counties, contains (entirely or portions of) 13 cities, 32 towns, 24 villages and is home to about 1.3 million people. The southern quarter of the basin is the most densely populated area in the state, holding 90 percent of the basin’s population (Figure 1, page viii). The basin is divided into six watersheds. Three of the watersheds (Milwaukee River North, Milwaukee River East-West and Milwaukee River South) contain the Milwaukee River from start to finish and collectively occupy two-thirds of the basin area (584 square miles). The other three watersheds (Cedar Creek, Menomonee River and Kinnickinnic River) are named after the major rivers they contain. Collectively the six watersheds contain about 500 miles of perennial streams, over 400 miles of intermittent streams, 35 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline, 57 named lakes and many small lakes and ponds. Wetlands encompass over 68,000 acres, or 12 percent of the basin land area.


Basin map

Watersheds, waters

Watershed and water details

Watershed Name/View DetailsWatershed Code/MapWatershed SizeLists (Streams, Lakes, Bays & Harbors)CountiesWater Management Unit (WMU)Major Drainage System
Cedar Creek MI04 129.26 mi 2 MI04 Water Lists Ozaukee, WashingtonMilwaukee RiverLake Michigan
East and West Branches Milwaukee River MI06 266 mi 2 MI06 Water Lists Dodge, Fond du Lac, Ozaukee, Sheboygan, WashingtonMilwaukee RiverLake Michigan
Kinnickinnic River MI01 33.35 mi 2 MI01 Water Lists MilwaukeeMilwaukee RiverLake Michigan
Menomonee River MI03 136.12 mi 2 MI03 Water Lists Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Washington, WaukeshaMilwaukee RiverLake Michigan
Milwaukee River South MI02 167.9 mi 2 MI02 Water Lists Milwaukee, OzaukeeMilwaukee RiverLake Michigan
North Branch Milwaukee River MI05 149.67 mi 2 MI05 Water Lists Fond du Lac, Ozaukee, Sheboygan, WashingtonMilwaukee RiverLake Michigan

Projects

Ongoing activities

There are several things currently in the works, including:

More detail





Plans

Watershed plans

The Menomonee River Watershed plan has been updated in this basin. This document is an update to the Milwaukee River Basin Plan (see below). Contact Sharon Gayan, Watershed Supervisor for information.

State of the Basin Report

If you have comments or questions, please contact the Water Basin Team Leader, Sharon Gayan or the Land Basin Team Leader, Greg Pilarski.

Last revised: Tuesday, October 29, 2013