Mullet River, Mullet River Watershed (SH05)
Mullet River, Mullet River Watershed (SH05)
Mullet River (53400)
5.91 Miles
17.76 - 23.67
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-Warm Mainstem, 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.
2017
Good
 
Sheboygan
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.
No
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 II Trout)
Streams 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 through natural reproduction and selective propagation. 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 II Trout)
Streams 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 through natural reproduction and selective propagation. 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

MULLET RIVER - T15N R22E Sec. 35, Stream Length = 39.7 miles.

The Mullet River originates from the outflow of Mullet Lake and the Mullet River State Wildlife Area in Fond du Lac County and flows in an easterly direction for approximately 40 miles to its confluence with the Sheboygan River in the Town of Sheboygan Falls, 17 miles upstream of Lake Michigan. The water quality of the Mullet River is considered good from its headwaters to Plymouth (approximately 25 miles) and fair from Plymouth downstream to its confluence with the Sheboygan River (approximately 15 miles) (WDNR 1968, 1995). The middle of the river, from Plymouth to Glenbeulah, has an increase in spring flow that lowers stream water temperatures and is classified as a Cold Water Community stream (trout). Upstream of Glenbeulah, and downstream of STH 67 near Plymouth, the Mullet River is classified as a Warm Water Sport Fish Community stream. This classification difference is due primarily to the increase in spring flow between Glenbeulah and Plymouth. The Mullet River is unique in that it flows from the warm water headwaters into a cold water segment. All of the other major tributaries in the Sheboygan Basin, including the Sheboygan and Onion Rivers, originate as coldwater streams and change over to warm water further downstream. The existing chemical and biological water quality information support the Mullet River's current biological classification. The river segment that flows through the Kettle Moraine State Forest Northern Unit, the Mullet Creek State Wildlife Area, and the Old Wade House State Park are located within the warmwater sport fish community segment.

MULLET RIVER WARM WATER SEGMENT DOWNSTREAM OF STH67 (RM 0-18.1) -

This reach extends from the confluence of the Mullet and Sheboygan Rivers upstream to State Highway 67 north of Plymouth. This 18.1-mile reach of the Mullet River is classified as a Warmwater Sport Fish Community stream. Water quality in this segment of the Mullet River is fair to good. Water chemistry and macroinvertebrate samples collected during 1994 indicate an increase in nutrients and solids from upstream to downstream but overall are not limiting the stream's biological potential. Point source dischargers as well as stormwater runoff, and cropland runoff result in increased nutrients, sedimentation, and bacteria to the stream. Fish barriers and water quality impacts from the New Paris, Meyer Park, and Plymouth dams present the greatest impact to the water quality of the Mullet River in this reach.

MULLET RIVER COLD WATER SEGMENT (RM 18.1-23.0)

The trout water reach of the Mullet River extends upstream from State Highway 67 to the confluence with Otter pond just downstream from Glenbeulah. This section of the Mullet River is the most heavily fished trout stream in Sheboygan County. Some agricultural pollution occurs within this segment, but is not considered limiting.

Water quality within this segment is rated as generally good, but is limited by a dam located at the Camp Evelyn Girl Scout facility. This impoundment alters the natural water temperature regime. The Northern Moraine Utility Commission wastewater treatment plant discharges to the groundwater of the Mullet River watershed. It is believed that after some treatment by the soil, the effluent mixes with the groundwater, which discharges directly to the Mullet River during part or all of the year. It is uncertain whether this occurrence is having an impact on surface water quality and bears investigation.

MULLET RIVER WARM WATER SEGMENT UPSTREAM OF GLENBEULAH (RM 23.0-39.7)

This segment starts at Otter Pond near Glenbeulah and terminates at Mullet Lake. The segment runs through the Kettle Moraine State Forest Northern Unit, the Mullet Creek State Wildlife Area, and Old Wade State Park.

Water quality conditions are good. There are fewer springs in this reach, combined with altered flows resulting from channelization and impoundments. Because of these limiting factors the fishery changes from trout stream to warm water sport fish. A dam forms the Glenbeulah Millpond, and two additional impoundments are present in the Mullet Creek Wildlife area to provide habitat for waterfowl.

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

The Wisconsin State Historical Society in conjunction with the Kohler Foundation is actively pursuing the restoration of The Historic Old Wade House's former sawmill, which is located along the Mullet River in Greenbush, Sheboygan County. The sawmill site was researched and an archeological dig was conducted during the last few years. The information collected will be used in the proposed reconstruction of the mill by providing insight into the construction of the original structure. In addition to the construction of the sawmill, the State Historical Society has proposed that this be a functioning sawmill, which would include reconstruction of the dam once located on the Mullet River. The current project proposal calls for the construction of the dam at the original site, but not an impoundment of the Mullet River (WWC 1997). An impoundment would be constructed adjacent to the Mullet River from which the mill would be operated. The Old Wade House project proposal and the Environmental Assessment (WDNR 1998) were discussed in a public meeting in 1998. The reports are available at the WDNR Plymouth Service Center.

The Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) had agreed to assist the State Historical Society in collecting information required for the environmental assessment of the project on the Mullet River. The WDNR conducted an aquatic resource survey of the Mullet River at the Old Wade House site, which included chemical and biological data collections (Aartila 1995), and stream flow (Galarneau 1998). Table 65 depicts the Mullet River sample sites for the basin monitoring and aquatic resource study.

The fish community in the Mullet River upstream from Glenbulah was assessed as part of the Old Wade House Project in 1994 and 1997. No recent surveys have been conducted in the trout river section nor lower river reaches. According to the results of the Hilsenhoff Biotic Index (HBI) This reach of the Mullet River has good water quality and very good biological diversity including rare mussel species (Table 68). The WDNR continues to work cooperatively with the State Historical Society with their proposed project at the Old Wade House State Park to help them obtain their unique project while protecting this special resource.

Date  2001

Author   Aquatic Biologist

Mullet River, Mullet River Watershed (SH05) Fish and Aquatic LifeMullet River, Mullet River Watershed (SH05) RecreationMullet River, Mullet River Watershed (SH05) Fish Consumption

General Condition

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

Date  2017

Author  Ashley Beranek

Impaired Waters

Mullet River (53400) from its mouth to Unnamed Stream (5027059) was placed on the impaired waters list for total phosphorus in 2012. The 2016 assessments showed continued impairment by phosphorus; total phosphorus sample data exceed 2016 WisCALM listing criteria for the Fish and Aquatic Life use, however, available biological data do not indicate impairment (i.e. no macroinvertebrate or fish Index of Biotic Integrity (IBI) scored in the "poor" condition category). This water was also assessed for temperature and sample data did not exceed 2016 WisCALM listing criteria for the Fish and Aquatic Life use. Based on the most updated information, no change in existing impaired waters listing is needed.

Date  2015

Author  Aaron Larson

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

Restore Wetlands
Restore Wetlands
Restore Wetlands
Collaborate with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation on wetland compensatory mitigation.
Information and Education
Ensure that landowners and local organizations in the Mullet River Watershed are aware of funding opportunities for wetland restoration and management and the establishment of riparian buffers.
Monitor Targeted Area
Complete analysis of the WDNR 2008-2009 Plymouth storm event water quality monitoring project.
Monitor or Propose 303(d) Listing
Determine whether the Mullet River below STH 67 should be added to the impaired waters list.
Information and Education
Educate City of Plymouth residents on yard care, yard waste disposal and other stormwater management practices.
Stormwater Planning, Implementation
Although the City of Plymouth conducts some street sweeping and storm sewer catch basin cleaning, encourage additional best practices in stormwater management and construction site erosion control to improve water quality.
Stormwater Planning, Implementation
Encourage the City of Plymouth to adopt and utilize low impact development stormwater standards for new urban development.
Engage Volunteers in Monitoring/Restoration
Solicit volunteers for storm sewer stenciling or outfall monitoring in the City of Plymouth.
Monitor with Baseline Survey
Secure resources to conduct water quality monitoring, inventory, and biological assessments to adequately assess the 154 water bodies in the Mullet River Watershed.
Citizen-Based Stream Monitoring
Secure resources to develop partnerships to encourage, train, and engage citizen monitors in the Mullet River Watershed.
Stormwater Planning, Implementation
Secure resources to increase staffing for county conservation departments and the Natural Resource Conservation Service so that they can provide individualized attention to landowners to progressively implement NR151 in the Mullet River Watershed.
Stormwater Planning, Implementation
Work with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), county conservation departments, WDNR foresters and wildlife biologists, and others to use available watershed assessment and planning tools to identify and prioritize key areas to address non-point runoff within the Mullet River Watershed.
Stormwater Planning, Implementation
Develop databases and maps showing manure storage facilities, lands enrolled in nutrient management programs, established buffers, and lands where buffers are needed. Use this information to target and prioritize agency programs and work in the Mullet River Watershed.
Stormwater Planning, Implementation
Work in partnership with local units of government towards compliance with performance standards for agricultural non-point runoff contained within NR151, Wisconsin Administrative Code, in the Mullet River Watershed.
Stormwater Planning, Implementation
Increase awareness and use of federal, state or local agricultural cost-share programs to work with landowners to reduce non-point runoff on agricultural facilities and lands in the Mullet River Watershed.
Stormwater Planning, Implementation
Incentivize landowners to maintain best management practices that have already been installed on agricultural lands in the Mullet River Watershed.
Stormwater Planning, Implementation
Address animal waste runoff in the Mullet River Watershed.
Stormwater Planning, Implementation
Incentivize and facilitate compliance with nutrient management and agricultural performance standards on crop land in the Mullet River Watershed.
Stormwater Planning, Implementation
Incentivize and facilitate acceptable crop field erosion rates in the Mullet River Watershed.
Stormwater Planning, Implementation
Work with the City of Plymouth, City of Sheboygan Falls and villages of Glenbeulah and Greenbush to improve stormwater management practices, especially treating runoff from impervious areas to reduce discharge of nutrients, sediment and bacteria to area waterways.
Stormwater Planning, Implementation
Facilitate the development and implementation of local stormwater management plans in local municipalities in the Mullet River Watershed.
Stormwater Planning, Implementation
Facilitate the adoption and enforcement of local erosion control ordinances in the Mullet River Watershed.
Stormwater Planning, Implementation
Enforce post construction site erosion control best management practices with emphasis on infiltration to maintain summer stream flow and thermal attributes of local streams, as per N.R. Code 216, in the Mullet River Watershed.
Stormwater Planning, Implementation
Ensure that the quantity of runoff in the Mullet River Watershed does not negatively impact waterways.
Permit Compliance Inventory
Review wastewater and stormwater permits in the Mullet River Watershed on a timely basis and facilitate operational changes to comply with changes in state law.
Permit Compliance Inventory
Encourage a cooperative relationship with wastewater and stormwater permit holders in the Mullet River Watershed to facilitate compliance and emergency tracking and response when accidental discharges occur.
Restore Wetlands
As mandated in the new federal mitigation rule, develop a wetland restoration plan for the Mullet River Watershed that identifies priorities for flood control, wildlife habitat restoration, and criteria for prioritizing restoration projects.
Restore Wetlands
Use The Nature Conservancy's 2009 wetland functions assessment and the WDNR's wetland assessment tool to plan for wetland protection and restoration in the Mullet River Watershed.
Protect Riparian or Shorelands
Partner with the NRCS and county conservation departments to secure funding to design buffer programs that better fit the needs and desires of landowners in this area and work with landowners to install stream buffers along the Mullet River and its tributaries.
Restore Wetlands
Partner with NRCS, county conservation departments, WDNR wildlife biologists and foresters to work with landowners in the Mullet River Watershed to manage existing wetlands, woodlands and other habitats established through conservation programs, and to restore key wetlands and woodlands converted to other land uses.
Protect Riparian or Shorelands
Promote the streambank protection easement and fee program in the Mullet River Watershed.
Restore Riparian Habitat
Advance Sheboygan County's new shoreland restoration ordinance in the Mullet River Watershed.
Information and Education
Provide information and education to landowners and others in the Mullet River Watershed regarding Wisconsin's new state rule (NR 40, Wisconsin Administrative Code) for identification, classification and control of invasive species.
Information and Education
Ensure that landowners and organizations are aware of funding opportunities to support invasive species work in the Mullet River Watershed.
Engage Volunteers in Monitoring/Restoration
Incentivize landowners, organizations, businesses, municipalities, and agencies to monitor and control aquatic and terrestrial invasive species in the Mullet River Watershed.
Monitor Targeted Area
Secure funding for monitoring wetlands and waterways on public lands in the Mullet River Watershed for the presence of aquatic invasive species and implementing control measures.
Protect Riparian or Shorelands
Establish county-based invasive species control programs in Fond du Lac and Sheboygan counties.
Fish Management, Access
Incentivize landowners, organizations, businesses, municipalities, and agencies to identify and prioritize fish passage barriers, like dams and improperly installed culverts, in the Mullet River Watershed and seek funding for fish passage restoration.
Information and Education
Ensure that owners of dams, local governments and organizations in the Mullet River Watershed are aware of state and federal funding opportunities for dam removal and fish passage restoration.
Dam Safety or Removal
Work with property owners to identify and prioritize dams to improve fish passage in the Mullet River Watershed, and seek funding to remove them or pursue fish passage enhancements at those dams that will remain.
Fish Management, Access
Develop a fish passage restoration plan for the Mullet River Watershed or each of its sub-watersheds.
Information and Education
Develop materials that interpret watershed issues and invite target audiences to participate in specific stewardship activities in the Mullet River Watershed.
Information and Education
Develop and implement educational programs designed specifically for target audiences in the Mullet River Watershed.
Information and Education
Secure resources to promote and implement the Sheboygan River Basin Partnership's Adopt-A-Stream program in the Mullet River watershed.
Information and Education
Develop partnerships with formal (schools) and non-formal (nature centers, organizations, agencies) education partners in and near the Mullet River Watershed to enhance and increase watershed education efforts.
Information and Education
Ensure that public property managers are aware of and have access to water quality and biological assessment data that exist for the Mullet River Watershed.
Restore Wetlands
Promote WDNR and Wisconsin Department of Transportation wetland compensation mitigation goals related to the State Highway 23 expansion in the Mullet River Watershed in order to increase restoration of wetland acreage and functions in Fond du Lac and Sheboygan counties.
Restore Hydrology, Morphology
Work in cooperation with landowners to improve straightened portions of the Mullet River and restore wetlands in the area between Greenbush and Glenbeulah.
Monitor Targeted Area
Identify and assess thermal impacts in the cold-water segments of the Mullet River.
Fish Management, Access
Secure resources to implement DNR fisheries management projects to improve habitat conditions in the cold water sections of the Mullet River.
Master Planning
Ensure that issues and recommendations from the 2010 Mullet River Watershed Plan are considered during master planning and annual property planning for the Kettle Moraine State Forest Northern Unit.
Monitor and/or Protect Groundwater, Sourcewater
Identify and protect groundwater recharge areas for coldwater segments of the Mullet River.
Stormwater Planning, Implementation
Work with City of Plymouth on improving snow disposal practices and other aspects of stormwater management.
Monitor to Evaluate Projects
Water quality biologists should continue to evaluate the monitoring conducted by the State Historical Society for the Old Wade House Project on the Mullet River.
Restore Hydrology, Morphology
We should encourage removal of dams on the Mullet River and conduct water quality and fisheries monitoring at these sites as dam removal opportunities arise.
Stormwater Planning, Implementation
The Department should encourage all communities to adopt construction site erosion and stormwater management ordinances and establish snow disposal policies.
Protect Riparian or Shorelands
We should assist the Sheboygan County Land Conservation Department staff in obtaining stream bank buffers along all of the streams in the county.
Runoff Evaluation
The Mullet River Watershed continues to be considered a high priority for selection of nonpoint source management projects and funding.
Monitor Fish Community
The water quality and fish biologists should conduct a survey of water quality water temperature and aquatic life in the coldwater section of the Mullet River to determine the factors that limit the river from reaching its full potential as a coldwater resource. Based on this information, habitat restoration will be done as needed, and as opportunities arise.
Monitor Fish Community
Endangered Resources, Fish Biologists, and Water Resources Biologists should continue to monitor the water quality and biological communities in the Mullet River for potential impacts associated with the Old Wade House Project.

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

Mullet River is located in the Mullet River watershed which is 88.19 miĀ². Land use in the watershed is primarily agricultural (55%), forest (19%) and a mix of wetland (12%) and other uses (14%). This watershed has 97.54 stream miles, 789.87 lake acres and 6,609.38 wetland acres.

Nonpoint Source Characteristics

This watershed is ranked High for runoff impacts on streams, Not Ranked 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

Mullet River is considered a Cool-Warm Mainstem, 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.

Fisheries & Habitat

MULLET RIVER COLD WATER SEGMENT (RM 18.1-23.0)

The fishery is represented by a good diversity of intolerant species, including brook and brown trout. The section of stream from Glenbeulah Springs to State Highway 67 is a Class II stream for brown trout and the diversity and number of individuals indicates a good fishery. The macroinvertebrate community is represented by a wide diversity of both intolerant and tolerant genera. The high water temperatures in the Camp Evelyn impoundment impair the trout habitat.

WDNR personnel surveyed the Mullet River downstream of the Crystal Lake Golf Course in August 1999. The fish community rated poor with species listed in Table ??? Stream habitat analysis showed excellent buffer area and shading; moderate streambank erosion; bottom substrate with a mixture of rock, gravel, and sand; and moderate fish cover. Benthic macroinvertebrate rating for this location were good to very good.

WDNR personnel surveyed a portion of the stream, upstream of County Highway “CJ” in July 2000. Land use in the area is heavily wooded with wetland areas in the riparian cooridor. The fish community rated fair with species listed in Table 51. Stream habitat analysis showed excellent buffer areas and shading, rocky substrate, and very little streambank erosion. Fish cover was limited due to shallow water depths.

Date  2001

Author   Aquatic Biologist

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