Sheboygan River, Sheboygan River Watershed (SH03)
Sheboygan River, Sheboygan River Watershed (SH03)
Sheboygan River (Dotyville Cr) (50700)
3.10 Miles
77.52 - 80.62
Natural Community
Natural communities (stream and lake natural communities) represent model results that use predicted flow and temperature based on landscape features and related assumptions. Ranges of flow and temperature associated with specific aquatic life communities (fish, macroinvertebrates) help biologists identify appropriate resource management goals. Wisconsin's Riverine Natural Communities.
Cool-Cold Headwater, Cool-Warm Headwater
Year Last Monitored
This date represents the most recent date of water quality monitoring stored in the SWIMS system. Additional field surveys for fish and habitat may be available subsequent to this date.
2015
Fair
 
Fond du Lac
Trout Water 
Trout Waters are represented by Class I, Class II or Class III waters. These classes have specific ecological characteristics and management actions associated with them. For more information regarding Trout Classifications, see the Fisheries Trout Class Webpages.
Yes
Outstanding or Exceptional 
Wisconsin has designated many of the state's highest quality waters as Outstanding Resource Waters (ORWs) or Exceptional Resource Waters (ERWs). Waters designated as ORW or ERW are surface waters which provide outstanding recreational opportunities, support valuable fisheries and wildlife habitat, have good water quality, and are not significantly impacted by human activities. ORW and ERW status identifies waters that the State of Wisconsin has determined warrant additional protection from the effects of pollution. These designations are intended to meet federal Clean Water Act obligations requiring Wisconsin to adopt an 'antidegradation' policy that is designed to prevent any lowering of water quality - especially in those waters having significant ecological or cultural value.
Yes
Impaired Water 
A water is polluted or 'impaired' if it does not support full use by humans, wildlife, fish and other aquatic life and it is shown that one or more of the pollutant criteria are not met.
No

Fish and Aquatic Life

Current Use
The use the water currently supports. This is not a designation or classification; it is based on the current condition of the water. Information in this column is not designed for, and should not be used for, regulatory purposes.
Cold (Class I Trout)
Streams supporting a cold water sport fishery, or serving as a spawning area for salmonids and other cold water fish species through natural reproduction. Representative aquatic life communities, associated with these waters, generally require cold temperatures and concentrations of dissolved oxygen that remain above 6 mg/L. Since these waters are capable of supporting natural reproduction, a minimum dissolved oxygen concentration of 7 mg/L is required during times of active spawning and support of early life stages of newly-hatched fish.
Attainable Use
The use that the investigator believes the water could achieve through managing "controllable" sources. Beaver dams, hydroelectric dams, low gradient streams, and naturally occurring low flows are generally not considered controllable. The attainable use may be the same as the current use or it may be higher.
Cold (Class I Trout)
Streams supporting a cold water sport fishery, or serving as a spawning area for salmonids and other cold water fish species through natural reproduction. Representative aquatic life communities, associated with these waters, generally require cold temperatures and concentrations of dissolved oxygen that remain above 6 mg/L. Since these waters are capable of supporting natural reproduction, a minimum dissolved oxygen concentration of 7 mg/L is required during times of active spawning and support of early life stages of newly-hatched fish.
Designated Use
This is the water classification legally recognized by NR102 and NR104, Wis. Adm. Code. The classification determines water quality criteria and effluent limits. Waters obtain designated uses through classification procedures.
Cold
Streams capable of supporting a cold water sport fishery, or serving as a spawning area for salmonids and other cold water fish species. Representative aquatic life communities, associated with these waters, generally require cold temperatures and concentrations of dissolved oxygen that remain above 6 mg/L. Since these waters are capable of supporting natural reproduction, a minimum dissolved oxygen concentration of 7 mg/L is required during times of active spawning and support of early life stages of newly-hatched fish.

Overview

SHEBOYGAN RIVER, SEGMENT 1 (RM 0-9.9)
T15N R23E Sec. 23 SESE **9** Stream Length = 81 miles **9** **9** WBIC = 50700

This reach extends from the mouth of the river at Lake Michigan in the City of Sheboygan to the Waelderhaus Dam in Kohler. The reach is the focus of several recent and ongoing water resource planning and implementation efforts including the:
· **9** Wisconsin Nonpoint Source Water Pollution Abatement Program's priority watershed project (WDNR 1991)
· **9** Sheboygan River Remedial Action Plan (WDNR 1995);
· **9** Sheboygan River and Harbor Superfund Project; the Sheboygan River Basin Areawide Water Quality Management Plan (WDNR 1988, 1995); and
· **9** Kohler Landfill Superfund Project.

Cropland erosion and construction site runoff, in-place pollutants and upstream sources of polluted runoff limit water quality. The limiting factors for this reach are toxic contamination from polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), heavy metals, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), excessive sedimentation, and bacterial pollutants. In 1992, PAH contamination of the floodplain soils near Camp Marina was discovered during construction of floating piers. This site formerly contained a coal gasification facility, operational until the 1930s, a suspected source of the contamination. The next occupant of the site used one area to store fuels in tanks, providing another possible source of the floodplain contamination. The extent of PAH contamination in the river sediment is undetermined.

This reach is classified as a warm water sport fish community. The fishery consists of smallmouth bass, walleye, northern pike, crappie, channel catfish, rock bass, and assorted panfish. Smallmouth bass dominate the sport fishery in this segment. Tolerant forage species include common carp, common shiner, sand shiner and bluntnose minnow. This segment also exhibits seasonal runs of salmon and trout. In response to concerns about PCB contamination of the fish, salmon stocking in the Sheboygan River was suspended in 1987.

Four recent studies to investigate the impact of PCBs to biota in this segment of the Sheboygan River have recently been completed or are ongoing. Kathy Patnode et al. (1998) conducted studies on (1) snapping turtles, (2) mudpuppies (aquatic salamanders), and (3) tree swallows. Burzynski et al. (1999) conducted a food chain study to examine contaminant transport from contaminated sediments and water column to larval and emergent macroinvertebrates, and fish.

Date  2001

Author   Aquatic Biologist

Overview

SHEBOYGAN RIVER SEGMENT 5 (RM 68.3-81.0)

This reach of the Sheboygan River originates at the headwaters and terminates 12.7 miles downstream at County Highway W. The Dotyville Sportsman's Club operates a trap range immediately north of Walnut Road and west of the river, located such that lead shot has the potential to drop into the river and along the banks. In addition, five small holding ponds comprising about five acres are adjacent to the river in the NW1/4, NE1/4, Sec.18, T15N, R19E. These ponds were constructed by the Tolibia Cheese Company and used to dispose of brine process wastewater. These ponds were constructed and used without DNR approval, and were therefore abandoned in 1986. A visual inspection conducted in the summer of 1987 confirmed that no surface water contamination was taking place from these ponds. There may, however, be a potential for groundwater contamination.

Sedimentation, nutrients, and loss of habitat degrade water quality in this segment. Responsible factors include cattle pasturing, cropland runoff, streambank erosion, and channelization. This segment is classified as supporting a warm water sport fish community. Habitat and water quality currently support an assemblage of tolerant forage and warm water game fish. Representative sport fish consist primarily of northern pike, sunfish, yellow perch, and bullheads. Common forage species include shiners, white suckers, and creek chub.

Date  2001

Author   Aquatic Biologist

Overview

This segment of the Sheboygan River is classified as supporting a warm water sport fish community, with a fishery consisting of smallmouth bass, northern pike, crappie, and panfish. Other common species found in this segment include rock bass, walleye, and channel catfish. Tolerant species such as common carp, fathead minnows, creek chub, and johnny darter were also present. Intolerant species were present in reaches of this segment, and included hornyhead chub, longnose dace, stonecat and logperch (Fago 1985).

Macroinvertebrate collections taken during the Tecumseh pilot studies (Aartila 1992) were dominated by Certopsyche morosa bifida. The Hilsenhoff biotic index value for this segment is 5.43 indicating "fair" water quality with substantial organic pollution likely.
SHEBOYGAN RIVER SEGMENT 4 (RM 45.0-68.3)

This reach of the river extends from the Rockville Dam upstream to County Highway W. Marshlands adjacent to the channel throughout most of this reach have served as a natural filter for polluted runoff, lessening the impact from nonpoint source pollutants. Sediment collects behind all impoundments and limits in-stream habitat in this river reach. Municipal wastewater treatment plants at Kiel, Mount Calvary and St. Cloud discharge to this segment of the river.

Water quality is limited by sediment loads, nutrient excess, naturally occurring low dissolved oxygen, and high turbidity. Responsible factors include cropland runoff, feedlot runoff, streambank runoff, streambank pasturing, bioturbation, and human-made impoundments. Although these pollutants and sources limit water quality, the river segment displays a wide range of water quality. Water downstream of the marshes is filtered, while water upstream of the barriers displays the characteristics of impoundments. Although the Sheboygan Marsh Dam area is an impoundment, it was installed to restore a naturally occurring wetland. See the Sheboygan Lake/Marsh section (page Error! Bookmark not defined.) for additional information on the Sheboygan Marsh segment of the river.

This river reach is classified as supporting a warm water sport fish community, with the fishery consisting of northern pike, bullheads, crappie, largemouth bass, panfish, and yellow perch. Very tolerant species include common carp, and central mudminnow. Intolerant species such as Iowa darter, stoneroller, hornyhead chub, northern redbelly dace, and tadpole madtom were also found here (Fago, 1985; WDNR 1994). Macroinvertebrate populations varied with the quality of the water. "Fairly poor" to "poor" water quality is dominated by the chironomid Cladotanytarsus sp., the Amphipod Hyallela azteca and caddisflies. Hydropsychid caddisfly, chironomid larvae, and blackfly larvae dominated “fair” water quality conditions. The excellent water quality reaches exhibited poor macroinvertebrate diversity with tolerant organisms dominating the community. Slow moving, deep water plus poor substrate is the limiting factor to a more diverse community.

The concentrations of PAHs, heavy metals, and PCBs were higher in the Sheboygan River in Kiel than downstream in the Rockville Impoundment (WDNR 1999). All concentrations are consistent with values observed in urban environments. The Sheboygan River near Kiel does not require specific sediment management activities at this time.

Date  2001

Author   Aquatic Biologist

Overview

SHEBOYGAN RIVER SEGMENT 2 (RM 9.9-15.2)
This segment includes the Sheboygan River main stem from the lower Kohler Dam to its confluence with the Mullet River. This segment runs through east central Sheboygan County and is contained almost entirely within the city limits of Sheboygan Falls and the town of Kohler. Two major rivers flow into the Sheboygan River within this river reach, the Mullet and Onion Rivers. The water quality conditions of these two rivers are discussed in separate sections in the WQMP. Three industries, Bemis Manufacturing, Tecumseh Products, and the Kohler Corporation, discharge directly or indirectly via storm sewers, to the Sheboygan River (DNR 1980). Tecumseh Products Company, working in cooperation with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, removed 5,000 cubic yards of PCB-contaminated sediment in three locations that contained concentrations of PCB between 890 and 4,500 ppm. Tecumseh and the U.S. EPA are deciding upon additional river cleanup activities for this Superfund site, with concurrence by the Natural Resources trustees, WDNR, NOAA, and USFWS. A public informational meeting will be held in 1999 to discuss the proposed cleanup activities.

This segment is classified as warm water sport fish community with smallmouth bass being the predominant sport species. The lower Kohler Dam prevents salmon and trout migration. Water quality conditions within this segment are considered to be poor to fair. Limiting factors include PCBs, heavy metals, excessive sedimentation, organic enrichment, and impoundment barriers. The pollutant sources for problems in the river segment include cropland runoff, streambank erosion or scour, urban runoff, construction site runoff, and in-place pollutants. High PCB content in tissues limit the potential for unrestricted fishery and wildlife uses.

Wisconsin DNR macroinvertebrate collections during the 1992 Tecumseh pilot studies project were dominated by Cheumatopsyche sp. This segment had an HBI value of 5.31 "fair" water quality with substantial pollution likely. During the 1978 basin study, periphyton samples were collected with the population equally dominated by both tolerant and intolerant species.
SHEBOYGAN RIVER SEGMENT 3 (RM 15.2-45.0)

This segment extends from the confluence of the Mullet River upstream to the Rockville Dam. Polluted runoff from agricultural activities is a major problem and particularly evident in downstream reaches. Water quality is limited by cropland runoff, streambank pasturing, turbidity, bioturbation, low flows, and the Franklin and the Millhome impoundments. Further discussion of the water quality problems associated with the dams is reported in the impoundment section of this report (page Error! Bookmark not defined.). The dams prohibit upstream movement of smallmouth bass, northern pike and other species from their winter habitat to spawning or summer habitat. The obstructions limit fish populations, especially into the upstream areas. There are no industries or municipalities having a serious point source impact on water quality in this stretch of the river, but it has been degraded in the past by effluent from the Kiel wastewater treatment plant and Johnsonville Sausage, Inc. discharges. Carp activity between May and October contributes greatly to chronic turbidity problems.

Date  2001

Author   Aquatic Biologist

Overview

Other Studies

A number of other studies have been conducted on this reach of the Sheboygan River to investigate the extent of PCB contamination and the resulting environmental impacts as part of the Sheboygan River and Harbor Superfund Project (see Southeast Region WDNR files for complete record).

Macroinvertebrate collections made during the Tecumseh pilot studies of the Sheboygan River and Harbor Superfund investigation in 1992, showed Hilsenhoff biotic index (HBI) values of 5.155 for this segment of the Sheboygan River representing "fair" water quality with fairly substantial organic pollution. The segment is dominated by the Cheumatopsyche sp. This segment is only partially meeting its biological use potential, due to loss of fish and invertebrate habitat and toxic contamination. This segment has the potential to provide an excellent hunting and fishing environment, but due to toxic contamination and the subsequent fish and waterfowl consumption advisory, it is under-utilized.

Surface water chemistry data examining conventional pollutants (i.e. nutrients, solids, bacteria etc.) have been collected regularly in the Sheboygan River when the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources established long-term water quality monitoring stations in 1977. Sites were selected throughout the State to establish baseline conditions for major rivers and provide the data necessary to track water quality over time. Long-term water quality trend monitoring data serves as an indicator of the overall water quality for the watershed encompassing most of the nonpoint and point source contributions to the stream. Trend analysis is a statistical procedure to determine whether values of a particular water quality variable have changed over time. A long-term water quality monitoring station was established within this stream reach at Esslingen Park in 1977. This site has been sampled on a nearly monthly basis.

Galarneau (1996) conducted a trend analysis for water quality parameters measured at Esslingen Park for the period from 1977 through 1994. Suspended solids, total phosphorus, dissolved phosphorus, ammonia, nitrate plus nitrite, chlorides, and fecal coliform bacteria, had all been collected fairly consistently over the study period. Stream flow was obtained from a USGS gage station located just upstream of Esslingen Park near Interstate Highway I43. Water quality data collected from the Sheboygan River at Esslingen Park showed downward trends in total phosphorus, dissolved phosphorus, nitrate plus nitrite, and fecal coliform bacteria. Chlorides displayed an upward trend over the same period.

Graphical representations of the water chemistry data collected to date are shown below (Figure 1). Box-whisker graphs show the median (50%), minimum, maximum, and percent of median for nutrients, suspended solids, chlorides and bacteria for the period 1977 - 1998. The 1998 data only include the winter and spring sampling periods.

Date  2001

Author   Aquatic Biologist

Overview

Thirty mudpuppies were placed in enclosures with mesh that permitted rapid water exchange. Funnel openings were created on the downstream side to allow prey to enter. Enclosures were placed at three sites in the Sheboygan River: one upstream reference site and two sites located within the downstream portion of the river. Necropsies were performed on 10 mudpuppies at the onset of the study to obtain baseline data. Approximately half of the specimens at each site were necropsied at day thirty and the remainder at day forty-five. Nine animals were found dead: 2 at the upper site and 7 at the lower sites. No significant differences were observed between sites for body weight or length, liver weight, or hepatosomatic index. Routine bacteriology did not identify any pathogenic conditions, but fungal infections were suspected to have occluded the gills of the dead animals. PCBs accumulated in mudpuppies over time in the contaminated portion of the river compared to the reference site. The highest concentrations were observed in pool habitat compared to fast-water riffles. Liver enzyme activity was elevated at 45 days in both contaminated sites relative to the reference site. This pilot study demonstrates that these aquatic carnivores rapidly take up PCBs. The potential role of PCBs in the absence of mudpuppies from the lower river requires controlled laboratory studies.

Tree Swallows

Tree swallows are insectivorous birds feeding primarily on emergent invertebrates from surface waters. Exposure to and bioaccumulation of PCBs is well documented in the aquatic food chain in this system, but movement of contaminants to avian and mammal species had yet to be established. Our objectives were to compare PCB accumulation above and below deposits, examine the screening capability of liver enzyme induction, and document impacts on reproduction (Patnode et al. 1998c). Study sites occurred along the lower river, while control sites were located upstream. Productivity was monitored and eggs, day 1 and day 12-15 nestlings were collected. Tissues were analyzed for PCBs. Liver enzyme activity from day 12-15 nestlings was determined. Hatching success rates differed between control and study sites in 1995. Severe flooding in 1996 resulted in loss of nests and reduced nesting activity in all sites. Rate of growth in 1996 did not differ significantly, but was lower at contaminated sites. A few highly contaminated clutches in the control sites may be the result of relocation of unsuccessful, PCB-contaminated females that have relocated upstream. All nestlings at control nests had negative PCB accumulation rates. Day 1 nestlings at study sites had negative rates due to growth dilution of egg burden, but accumulated PCBs between days 1 and 12. PCB accumulation in study sites was congener and site-dependent reflecting exposure via egg deposition and prey. Liver enzyme activity was correlated with PCB concentration in study sites in 1995, but was not evident in 1996. When analysis is completed, data collected in 1997 will be compared to 1995 and 1996 to form the basis of pre-remediation biomonitoring. The study will be repeated immediately following remediation and 5 years thereafter.

Food Chain Study

A study to determine how PCBs, PAHs and heavy metals accumulate through the food chain was initiated in 1994 for the Sheboygan River Remedial Action Plan Area of Concern (WDNR, 1995). Data were collected for both abiotic (sediment and water column) and biotic (invertebrates and fish species) components of the ecosystem. A final report outlining results will be completed in the spring of 1999 and distributed to interested parties.

Date  2001

Author   Aquatic Biologist

Overview

Snapping Turtles

Snapping turtles from contaminated rivers accumulate high body burdens of PCBs that are transferred to the eggs. Our objective was to incubate snapping turtle clutches from PCB-contaminated and reference site conditions to determine if reproduction is impacted (Patnode et al. 1998a). To date, clutches have been collected from 10 females within contaminated sites and 4 from reference sites. Egg composites from each clutch were analyzed for PCBs found in Great Lakes ecosystems. Half of each clutch was incubated at male-inducing and the other half at female-inducing temperatures. Hatching success was reduced in clutches with PCBs greater than 15 ppm, particularly in those incubated at male-inducing temperatures. In 1996 and 1997, gross deformities were observed in 2 turtles and bent tails were observed in 9. Growth curves diverged at 16-24 weeks resulting in significantly higher (+33%) final weights for hatchlings with 1-15ppm, while those with >15ppm did not differ from reference hatchlings. Responsiveness was inversely related to PCB exposure; turtles with the highest PCB concentration performed the poorest. Turtles were necropsied at 15 days or 33 weeks to determine the sex of gonads, analyze blood samples for circulating hormone levels, and test liver enzyme activity for the effects of PCBs. Liver enzyme activity responsible for degrading PCBs in hatchling turtles is elevated in a dose-dependent manner by >1ppm PCB, while in juveniles turtles it is suppressed. PCB exposure appears to result in greater variability in estrogen to testosterone ratios at 15 days, but no relationship is evident in the data currently available. Data from 8-month-old juveniles suggests that increasing PCBs may suppress the female hormone (progesterone) to male hormone (testosterone) ratio.

Thus far, 162 juvenile turtles have been marked and released where the female was captured. We intend to resample released turtles through periodic trapping to monitor PCB accumulation, growth and survival. In addition, we are continuing the study for a third year. Investigating the health of these individuals over time will enable us to determine if PCBs are having a long-term impact on snapping turtle populations and evaluate the efficacy of remediation.

Mudpuppies

The upper Sheboygan River watershed and adjacent basins support healthy populations of mudpuppies. However, in the lower Sheboygan River, mudpuppies are absent. Since chronic exposure to contaminants can impair normal physiology, we suspect that their absence is due to discharge and accumulation of municipal, industrial and agricultural wastes in the river (Patnode 1998b). To test this hypothesis, we conducted a caged mudpuppy study in the Sheboygan River. Our first objective was to determine if contaminant exposure in mudpuppies is significantly higher in downstream than upstream segments of the river. Secondly, we wanted to determine if mudpuppy health is impacted by exposure to contaminants.

Date  2001

Author   Aquatic Biologist

Overview

SHEBOYGAN RIVER, SEGMENT 1 (RM 0-9.9) - This reach extends from the mouth of the river at Lake Michigan in the City of Sheboygan to the Waelderhaus Dam in Kohler. The reach is the focus of several recent and ongoing water resource planning and implementation efforts including the:
·Wisconsin Nonpoint Source Water Pollution Abatement Program's priority watershed project (WDNR 1991);
·Sheboygan River Remedial Action Plan (WDNR 1995);
·Sheboygan River and Harbor Superfund Project; the Sheboygan River Basin Areawide Water Quality Management Plan (WDNR 1988, 1995); and
·Kohler Landfill Superfund Project.

Cropland erosion and construction site runoff, in-place pollutants and upstream sources of polluted runoff limit water quality. The limiting factors for this reach are toxic contamination from polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), heavy metals, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), excessive sedimentation, and bacterial pollutants. In 1992, PAH contamination of the floodplain soils near Camp Marina was discovered during construction of floating piers. This site formerly contained a coal gasification facility, operational until the 1930s, a suspected source of the contamination. The next occupant of the site used one area to store fuels in tanks, providing another possible source of the floodplain contamination. The extent of PAH contamination in the river sediment is undetermined.

This reach is classified as a warm water sport fish community. The fishery consists of smallmouth bass, walleye, northern pike, crappie, channel catfish, rock bass, and assorted panfish. Smallmouth bass dominate the sport fishery in this segment. Tolerant forage species include common carp, common shiner, sand shiner and bluntnose minnow. This segment also exhibits seasonal runs of salmon and trout. In response to concerns about PCB contamination of the fish, salmon stocking in the Sheboygan River was suspended in 1987.

Four recent studies to investigate the impact of PCBs to biota in this segment of the Sheboygan River have recently been completed or are ongoing. Kathy Patnode et al. (1998) conducted studies on (1) snapping turtles, (2) mudpuppies (aquatic salamanders), and (3) tree swallows. Burzynski et al. (1999) conducted a food chain study to examine contaminant transport from contaminated sediments and water column to larval and emergent macroinvertebrates, and fish.

From: Galarneau, Steve and Masterson, John. 1999. Water Resources of the Sheboygan River Basin. Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Madison, WI.

Date  1999

Author   Aquatic Biologist

Overview

SHEBOYGAN RIVER SEGMENT 5 (RM 68.3-81.0) - This reach of the Sheboygan River originates at the headwaters and terminates 12.7 miles downstream at County Highway W. The Dotyville Sportsman's Club operates a trap range immediately north of Walnut Road and west of the river, located such that lead shot has the potential to drop into the river and along the banks. In addition, five small holding ponds comprising about five acres are adjacent to the river in the NW1/4, NE1/4, Sec.18, T15N, R19E. These ponds were constructed by the Tolibia Cheese Company and used to dispose of brine process wastewater. These ponds were constructed and used without DNR approval, and were therefore abandoned in 1986. A visual inspection conducted in the summer of 1987 confirmed that no surface water contamination was taking place from these ponds. There may, however, be a potential for groundwater contamination.

Sedimentation, nutrients, and loss of habitat degrade water quality in this segment. Responsible factors include cattle pasturing, cropland runoff, streambank erosion, and channelization. This segment is classified as supporting a warm water sport fish community. Habitat and water quality currently support an assemblage of tolerant forage and warm water game fish. Representative sport fish consist primarily of northern pike, sunfish, yellow perch, and bullheads. Common forage species include shiners, white suckers, and creek chub.

From: Galarneau, Steve and Masterson, John. 1999. Water Resources of the Sheboygan River Basin. Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Madison, WI.

Date  1999

Author   Aquatic Biologist

Overview

SHEBOYGAN RIVER SEGMENT 4 (RM 45.0-68.3) - This reach of the river extends from the Rockville Dam upstream to County Highway W. Marshlands adjacent to the channel throughout most of this reach have served as a natural filter for polluted runoff, lessening the impact from nonpoint source pollutants. Sediment collects behind all impoundments and limits in-stream habitat in this river reach. Municipal wastewater treatment plants at Kiel, Mount Calvary and St. Cloud discharge to this segment of the river.

Water quality is limited by sediment loads, nutrient excess, naturally occurring low dissolved oxygen, and high turbidity. Responsible factors include cropland runoff, feedlot runoff, streambank runoff, streambank pasturing, bioturbation, and human-made impoundments. Although these pollutants and sources limit water quality, the river segment displays a wide range of water quality. Water downstream of the marshes is filtered, while water upstream of the barriers displays the characteristics of impoundments. Although the Sheboygan Marsh Dam area is an impoundment, it was installed to restore a naturally occurring wetland. See the Sheboygan Lake/Marsh section for additional information on the Sheboygan Marsh segment of the river.

This river reach is classified as supporting a warm water sport fish community, with the fishery consisting of northern pike, bullheads, crappie, largemouth bass, panfish, and yellow perch. Very tolerant species include common carp, and central mudminnow. Intolerant species such as Iowa darter, stoneroller, hornyhead chub, northern redbelly dace, and tadpole madtom were also found here (Fago, 1985; WDNR 1994). Macroinvertebrate populations varied with the quality of the water. "Fairly poor" to "poor" water quality is dominated by the chironomid Cladotanytarsus sp., the Amphipod Hyallela azteca and caddisflies. Hydropsychid caddisfly, chironomid larvae, and blackfly larvae dominated “fair” water quality conditions. The excellent water quality reaches exhibited poor macroinvertebrate diversity with tolerant organisms dominating the community. Slow moving, deep water plus poor substrate is the limiting factor to a more diverse community.

Water quality was assessed in this river reach during 1994 for water chemistry, sediment chemistry, and macroinvertebrates. The macroinvertebrate community was assessed using the Hilsenhoff Biotic Index (HBI), receiving a fair rating. Sediment samples were collected in 1994 at three sites to obtain baseline sediment quality data for this segment of the Sheboygan River.

The concentrations of PAHs, heavy metals, and PCBs were higher in the Sheboygan River in Kiel than downstream in the Rockville Impoundment. This may be due to urban runoff but additional field work will be needed to identify the cause(s). The levels are relatively low and not perceived to be at levels of concern based on the toxicity information that we have for these constituents at this time. Consequently, Sauk Creek adjacent to the Sheboygan River near Kiel does not require specific sediment management activities at this time.

From: Galarneau, Steve and Masterson, John. 1999. Water Resources of the Sheboygan River Basin. Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Madison, WI.

Date  1999

Author   Aquatic Biologist

Overview

SHEBOYGAN RIVER SEGMENT 3 (RM 15.2-45.0) - This segment extends from the confluence of the Mullet River upstream to the Rockville Dam. Polluted runoff from agricultural activities is a major problem and particularly evident in downstream reaches. Water quality is limited by cropland runoff, streambank pasturing, turbidity, bioturbation, low flows, and the Franklin and the Millhome impoundments. Further discussion of the water quality problems associated with the dams is reported in the impoundment section of this report. The dams prohibit upstream movement of smallmouth bass, northern pike and other species from their winter habitat to spawning or summer habitat. The obstructions limit fish populations, especially into the upstream areas. There are no industries or municipalities having a serious point source impact on water quality in this stretch of the river, but it has been degraded in the past by effluent from the Kiel wastewater treatment plant and Johnsonville Sausage, Inc. discharges. Carp activity between May and October contributes greatly to chronic turbidity problems.

This segment of the Sheboygan River is classified as supporting a warm water sport fish community, with a fishery consisting of smallmouth bass, northern pike, crappie, and panfish. Other common species found in this segment include rock bass, walleye, and channel catfish. Tolerant species such as common carp, fathead minnows, creek chub, and johnny darter were also present. Intolerant species were present in reaches of this segment, and included hornyhead chub, longnose dace, stonecat and logperch (Fago 1985).

Macroinvertebrate collections taken during the Tecumseh pilot studies (Aartila 1992) were dominated by Certopsyche morosa bifida. The Hilsenhoff biotic index value for this segment is 5.428 indicating "fair" water quality with substantial organic pollution likely.

From: Galarneau, Steve and Masterson, John. 1999. Water Resources of the Sheboygan River Basin. Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Madison, WI.

Date  1999

Author   Aquatic Biologist

Overview

SHEBOYGAN RIVER SEGMENT 2 (RM 9.9-15.2) - This segment includes the Sheboygan River main stem from the lower Kohler Dam to its confluence with the Mullet River. This segment runs through east central Sheboygan County and is contained almost entirely within the city limits of Sheboygan Falls and the town of Kohler. Two major rivers flow into the Sheboygan River within this river reach, the Mullet and Onion Rivers. The water quality conditions of these two rivers are discussed in separate sections in the WQMP. Three industries, Bemis Manufacturing, Tecumseh Products, and the Kohler Corporation, discharge directly or indirectly via storm sewers, to the Sheboygan River (DNR 1980). Tecumseh Products Company, working in cooperation with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, removed 5,000 cubic yards of PCB-contaminated sediment in three locations that contained concentrations of PCB between 890 and 4,500 ppm. Tecumseh and the U.S. EPA are deciding upon additional river cleanup activities for this Superfund site, with concurrence by the Natural Resources trustees, WDNR, NOAA, and USFWS. A public informational meeting will be held in 1999 to discuss the proposed cleanup activities.

This segment is classified as warm water sport fish community with smallmouth bass being the predominant sport species. The lower Kohler Dam prevents salmon and trout migration. Water quality conditions within this segment are considered to be poor to fair. Limiting factors include PCBs, heavy metals, excessive sedimentation, organic enrichment, and impoundment barriers. The pollutant sources for problems in the river segment include cropland runoff, streambank erosion or scour, urban runoff, construction site runoff, and in-place pollutants. High PCB content in tissues limit the potential for unrestricted fishery and wildlife uses.

Wisconsin DNR macroinvertebrate collections during the 1992 Tecumseh pilot studies project were dominated by Cheumatopsyche sp. This segment had an HBI value of 5.3106 "fair" water quality with substantial pollution likely. During the 1978 basin study, periphyton samples were collected with the population equally dominated by both tolerant and intolerant species.

From: Galarneau, Steve and Masterson, John. 1999. Water Resources of the Sheboygan River Basin. Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Madison, WI.

Date  1999

Author   Aquatic Biologist

Overview

Food Chain Study - A study to determine how PCBs, PAHs and heavy metals accumulate through the food chain was initiated in 1994 for the Sheboygan River Remedial Action Plan Area of Concern (WDNR, 1995). Data were collected for both abiotic (sediment and water column) and biotic (invertebrates and fish species) components of the ecosystem. A final report outlining results will be completed in the spring of 1999 and distributed to interested parties.

Other Studies - A number of other studies have been conducted on this reach of the Sheboygan River to investigate the extent of PCB contamination and the resulting environmental impacts as part of the Sheboygan River and Harbor Superfund Project (see Southeast Region WDNR files for complete record).

Macroinvertebrate collections made during the Tecumseh pilot studies of the Sheboygan River and Harbor Superfund investigation in 1992, showed Hilsenhoff biotic index (HBI) values of 5.155 for this segment of the Sheboygan River representing "fair" water quality with fairly substantial organic pollution. The segment is dominated by the Cheumatopsyche sp. This segment is only partially meeting its biological use potential, due to loss of fish and invertebrate habitat and toxic contamination. This segment has the potential to provide an excellent hunting and fishing environment, but due to toxic contamination and the subsequent fish and waterfowl consumption advisory, it is under-utilized.

Surface water chemistry data examining conventional pollutants (i.e. nutrients, solids, bacteria etc.) have been collected regularly in the Sheboygan River when the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources established long-term water quality monitoring stations in 1977. Sites were selected throughout the State to establish baseline conditions for major rivers and provide the data necessary to track water quality over time. Long-term water quality trend monitoring data serves as an indicator of the overall water quality for the watershed encompassing most of the nonpoint and point source contributions to the stream. Trend analysis is a statistical procedure to determine whether values of a particular water quality variable have changed over time. A long-term water quality monitoring station was established within this stream reach at Esslingen Park in 1977. This site has been sampled on a nearly monthly basis.

Galarneau (1996) conducted a trend analysis for water quality parameters measured at Esslingen Park for the period from 1977 through 1994. Suspended solids, total phosphorus, dissolved phosphorus, ammonia, nitrate plus nitrite, chlorides, and fecal coliform bacteria, had all been collected fairly consistently over the study period. Stream flow was obtained from a USGS gage station located just upstream of Esslingen Park near Interstate Highway I43. Water quality data collected from the Sheboygan River at Esslingen Park showed downward trends in total phosphorus, dissolved phosphorus, nitrate plus nitrite, and fecal coliform bacteria. Chlorides displayed an upward trend over the same period (Table 33).

From: Galarneau, Steve and Masterson, John. 1999. Water Resources of the Sheboygan River Basin. Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Madison, WI.

Date  1999

Author   Aquatic Biologist

Historical Description

From CTH H to Northview Rd bisecting S31-32 T15N R19E - class 2, from Northview Rd to the headwaters - class 1.

Date  1980

Author   Surface Water Inventory Of Wisconsin

Sheboygan River, Sheboygan River Watershed (SH03) Fish and Aquatic LifeSheboygan River, Sheboygan River Watershed (SH03) RecreationSheboygan River, Sheboygan River Watershed (SH03) Fish Consumption

General Condition

The Sheboygan River (Mile 77.52 to 80.62) was assessed during the 2018 listing cycle; total phosphorus sample data may have met the 2018 WisCALM listing thresholds for the Fish and Aquatic Life use. Available biological data did not indicate impairment (i.e. no macroinvertebrate or fish Index of Biotic Integrity (IBI) scored in the "poor" condition category). This water was meeting this designated use and not considered impaired. As a result, this water was listed as a new Category 2 water, instead of a Category 3.

Date  2017

Author  Amanda Smith

General Condition

The Sheboygan River (Sheboygan Falls dam to Franklin dam) was assessed during the 2018 listing cycle; available biological data did not indicate impairment (i.e. no macroinvertebrate or fish Index of Biotic Integrity (IBI) scored in the "poor" condition category) based on the 2018 WisCALM listing thresholds for the Fish and Aquatic Life use. This water was meeting this designated use and was not considered impaired.

Date  2017

Author  Amanda Smith

General Condition

Sheboygan River (miles 56.03-76.85) was assessed during the 2018 listing cycle; new biological (macroinvertebrate and fish Index of Biotic Integrity (IBI) scores) and temperature sample data were clearly below the 2018 WisCALM listing thresholds for the Fish and Aquatic Life use. This water was meeting this designated use and was not considered impaired.

Date  2017

Author  Ashley Beranek

Impaired Waters

The Sheboygan River (Mouth to Sheboygan Falls dam) was assessed during the 2018 listing cycle; total phosphorus clearly exceeded the 2018 WisCALM listing thresholds for the Fish and Aquatic Life use. However, available biological data did not indicate impairment (i.e. no macroinvertebrate or fish Index of Biotic Integrity (IBI) scored in the "poor" condition category). This water was not meeting this designated use and was considered impaired.

Date  2017

Author  Amanda Smith

Condition

Wisconsin has over 84,000 miles of streams, 15,000 lakes and milllions of acres of wetlands. Assessing the condition of this vast amount of water is challenging. The state's water monitoring program uses a media-based, cross-program approach to analyze water condition. An updated monitoring strategy (2015-2020) is now available.

Compliance with Clean Water Act fishable, swimmable standards are located in the Executive Summary of Water Condition in 2016 . See also 'monitoring' and 'projects'.

Reports

Recommendations

Monitor Invasive Species
Invasive species monitoring and control.
Monitoring Ecosystem
Environmental surveys will be conducted at the Schuchardt Farms property with the following objectives: 1. Identify, describe, and assess plant communities. 2. Collect forest stand structure data. 3. Evaluate wetland functions 4. Assess fisheries and aquatic resources 5. Identify, describe and assess wildlife habitat 6. Identify stormwater Infiltration areas
Monitor AOC Beneficial Use Impairments
In coordination with WDNR, USGS, and USFWS, this project involves capturing white suckers in the Sheboygan River AOC to assess whether the tumor BUI can be delisted.
Habitat Restoration - Instream
This project will address sedimentation from large sections of unstable and eroding riverbanks that are adversely impacting aquatic communities (fish and benthos) and associated wildlife populations in the Sheboygan River AOC.
Data Analysis or Evaluation
Prior to the establishment of population level targets, information on aquatic habitat availability for species of interest is needed
Habitat Restoration - Instream
The Taylor Drive wetland rehabilitation project will improve the habitat at this existing wetland complex and connect this isolated system to adjacent wetlands and the Sheboygan River to enhance its function to fish and wildlife and improve water quality.
Restore Wetlands
Habitat restoration projects will enhance approx 1 mile of shoreline, improve 10 acres of wetland, treat 12 acres of riparian area affected by invasives, and assess benthos health and waterfowl consumption advisories
Comprehensive Planning Studies
. This project is intended to support the development of delisting strategies and a fish and wildlife population and habitat restoration plan to address the “fish and wildlife population” and “fish and wildlife habitat” beneficial use impairments for the Sheboygan River and Harbor Area of Concern. This project includes a rapid ecological assessment using historical and current data, as well as conducting new field surveys, as needed, to fill data gaps or update data needed for the assessment.
Monitor Water Quality or Sediment
Category 2. 2018 TP Results: May Exceed. Station: 203096. AU: 5753343.
Navigability Determination
T16N R19E ; Sheboygan River;
Protect Riparian or Shorelands
Water quality biologists should continue to assist the Sheboygan County Land Conservation Department staff in obtaining stream bank buffers along all of the streams in the county.

Management Goals

Wisconsin's Water Quality Standards provide qualitative and quantitative goals for waters that are protective of Fishable, Swimmable conditions [Learn more]. Waters that do not meet water quality standards are considered impaired and restoration actions are planned and carried out until the water is once again fishable and swimmable

Management goals can include creation and implementation of a Total Maximum Daily Load Analysis, habitat restoration work, partnership education and outreach and more. If specific recommendations exist for this water, they will be displayed below.

Monitoring

Monitoring the condition of a river, stream, or lake includes gathering physical, chemical, biological, and habitat data. Comprehensive studies often gather all these parameters in great detail, while lighter assessment events will involve sampling physical, chemical and biological data such as macroinvertebrates. Aquatic macroinvertebrates and fish communities integrate watershed or catchment condition, providing great insight into overall ecosystem health. Chemical and habitat parameters tell researchers more about human induced problems including contaminated runoff, point source dischargers, or habitat issues that foster or limit the potential of aquatic communities to thrive in a given area. Wisconsin's Water Monitoring Strategy was recenty updated.

Grants and Management Projects

Monitoring Projects

Watershed Characteristics

Sheboygan River is located in the Sheboygan River watershed which is 260.12 mi². Land use in the watershed is primarily agricultural (60%), wetland (18%) and a mix of forest (8%) and other uses (14%). This watershed has 340.24 stream miles, 4,345.33 lake acres and 27,968.05 wetland acres.

Nonpoint Source Characteristics

This watershed is ranked Not Available for runoff impacts on streams, Not Available for runoff impacts on lakes and High for runoff impacts on groundwater and therefore has an overall rank of High. This value can be used in ranking the watershed or individual waterbodies for grant funding under state and county programs.However, all waters are affected by diffuse pollutant sources regardless of initial water quality. Applications for specific runoff projects under state or county grant programs may be pursued. For more information, go to surface water program grants.

Natural Community

Sheboygan River (Dotyville Cr) is considered a Cool-Cold Headwater, Cool-Warm Headwater under the state's Natural Community Determinations.

Natural communities (stream and lake natural communities) represent model results that use predicted flow and temperature based on landscape features and related assumptions. Ranges of flow and temperature associated with specific aquatic life communities (fish, macroinvertebrates) help biologists identify appropriate resource management goals. Wisconsin's Riverine Natural Communities.

Cool (Warm-Transition) Headwaters are small, sometimes intermittent streams with cool to warm summer temperatures. Coldwater fishes are uncommon to absent, transitional fishes are abundant to common, and warm water fishes are common to uncommon. Headwater species are abundant to common, mainstem species are common to absent, and river species are absent.

Cool (Cold-Transition) Headwaters are small, usually perennial streams with cold to cool summer temperatures. Coldwater fishes are common to uncommon (<10 per 100 m), transitional fishes are abundant to common, and warm water fishes are uncommon to absent. Headwater species are abundant to common, mainstem species are common to absent, and river species are absent.