East River, East River Watershed (LF01)
East River, East River Watershed (LF01)
East River (118000)
28.10 Miles
14.15 - 42.25
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 Natural Communities.
Macroinvertebrate, Warm Headwater, COOL-Warm Headwater
Year Last Monitored
This is the most recent date of monitoring data stored in SWIMS. Additional surveys for fish and habitat may be available subsequent to this date.
This river is impaired
Degraded Biological Community, Low DO, Degraded Habitat, Chronic Aquatic Toxicity
Unspecified Metals, Total Phosphorus, Sediment/Total Suspended Solids
Brown, Calumet
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.
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.
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.

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.
Streams capable of supporting a warm waterdependent forage fishery. Representative aquatic life communities associated with these waters generally require cool or warm temperatures and concentrations of dissolved oxygen that do not drop below 5 mg/L.
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.
Streams capable of supporting a warm waterdependent forage fishery. Representative aquatic life communities associated with these waters generally require cool or warm temperatures and concentrations of dissolved oxygen that do not drop below 5 mg/L.
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.
Fish and Aquatic Life Warmwater - waters that do not have a specific designated (codified use) but which are have documented scientific support to ascertain indicating that the water is a warm fishable, swimmable water.


The East River travels north through Brown County and roughly parallel to the Fox River. The majority of the stream flows through agricultural lands, then through the urban areas of Allouez, De Pere and Green Bay before discharging into the Fox River. The lower seven miles of the East River is effected by a seiche effect from Green Bay. The seiche effect tends to keep sediment suspended in the water column. This 39-mile river has very hard water and is very turbid. Stream bank cover is very poor, many of the banks are pastured and are highly eroded. Significant amounts of agricultural fertility are added to the stream from pasturing and enriched runoff. The stream bottom consists of silt and clay. Instream cover is sparse and aquatic invertebrates scarce. Stream habitat assessment surveys indicate poor to good habitat and macroinvertebrate studies indicate poor to fair water quality. Many storm sewers discharge to the lower stretch of river creating higher velocities and turbid water. Data from a USGS monitoring operated at Monroe Street (Green Bay) during 1986 was used to estimate a sediment loading rate of 125 Tons/mi2/yr and a total phosphorus loading rate of 1,128 lbs/mi2/yr. Water chemistry data showed this area to be in a degraded state with BOD-5 load levels of 11 milligrams per liter (mg/l), total phosphorus levels of 1.91 mg/l, fecal streptococcus levels of 730,000 colonies/100 milliliter (ml) and fecal coliform levels of 1,410,000 colonies/100 ml. There are three point source facilities which discharge treated wastewater (one industrial and two municipal facilities-please refer to the point source tables for the East River Watershed for more information). Recent fisheries surveys indicate that northern pike utilize the marshy areas of the river located in Bellevue for spring spawning. Walleye, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass and yellow perch are found in the lower four miles of the East River.

Bougie, Cheryl A. 1999. Lower Fox River Basin Water Quality Management Plan. Public Review Draft. Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Madison, WI.

Date  1999

Author  Cheryl Bougie

East River, East River Watershed (LF01) Fish and Aquatic LifeEast River, East River Watershed (LF01) RecreationEast River, East River Watershed (LF01) Fish Consumption

Impaired Waters

East River, from its mouth to unnamed tributary (119300) (miles 0 to 14.15) and from unnamed tributary (119300) to headwaters (miles 14.15 to 42.25), was put on the Impaired Waters List for phosphorus, suspended solids, and unspecified metals during the 1998 cycle. This river was evaluated every two-year cycle from 2014 to 2022; high phosphorus levels were confirmed. This water is part of the Lower Fox River Basin TP and TSS TMDL, approved in 2012.

Date  2022

Author  Ashley Beranek


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 2018. See also the 'monitoring and projects' tab.



TMDL Development
This proposal will help County staff implement actions related to the Clean Water Act and DNR?s targeted performance standards for nonpoint source pollution.
TMDL Implementation
Identify Targeted Best Management Practices locations
Navigability Determination
; East River;
Navigability Determination
; East River;
Navigability Determination
; East River;
Navigability Determination
; East River;
Navigability Determination
SW NE S10 T22N R20E; East River;
Sewer Service Area Planning
Brown County Planning Commission (BCPC) will contract directly with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) for services to be provided as set forth in the work program for 2015.
Nine Key Element Plan
Upper East River PWS Plan - Nine Key Element Plan - The East River watershed is further divided into two subwatersheds the Upper and Lower East River Watersheds. The Upper East River Watershed drains approximately 22,992 acres. Excessive sediment loads and increased algal blooms in the Lower Fox River and Bay of Green Bay prompted the need for action to be taken in the Lower Fox River Basin.
Nine Key Element Plan
East River PWS Plan - Nine Key Element Plan -The East River Priority Watershed Project plan assesses the rural and urban nonpoint sources of pollution in the East River Watershed Project area and guides the implementation of nonpoint source control measures. These control measures are needed to meet specific water resource objectives for the East River and its tributaries and for lower Green Bay.
TMDL (USEPA) Approved
Lower Fox River Basin TP TSS TMDL 2012
Sewer Service Area Planning
Brown County Planning Commission should continue updating and amending the Brown County Sewerage Plan (SSA Plan) on an as needed basis to prevent development in unsuitable areas (environmental sensitive areas) and protect surface and ground water quality (Type B).

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 or implementation of a Total Maximum Daily Load analysis, a Nine Key Element Plan, or other restoration work, education and outreach and more. If specific recommendations exist for this water, they will be displayed below online.


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

East River is located in the East River watershed which is 206.32 miĀ². Land use in the watershed is primarily agricultural (43.70%), suburban (19.50%) and a mix of grassland (14.70%) and other uses (22.10%). This watershed has 432.18 stream miles, 7,625.39 lake acres and 6,193.00 wetland acres.

Nonpoint Source Characteristics

This watershed is ranked High 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

East River is considered a Macroinvertebrate, Warm Headwater, COOL-Warm Headwater under the state's Natural Community Determinations.

Natural communities (stream and lake natural communities) represent model results and DNR staff valiation processes that confirm or update predicted conditions based on flow and temperature modeling from historic and current landscape features and related variables. Predicated flow and temperatures for waters are associated predicated fish assemblages (communities). Biologists evaluate the model results against current survey data to determine if the modeled results are corect and whether biological indicators show water quaity degradation. This analysis is a core component of the state's resource management framework. 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.

Warm Headwaters are small, usually intermittent streams with warm summer temperatures. Coldwater fishes are absent, transitional fishes are common to uncommon, and warm water fishes are abundant to common. Headwater species are abundant to common, mainstem species are common to absent, and river species are absent.

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