Oak Creek, Oak Creek Watershed (SE05)
Oak Creek, Oak Creek Watershed (SE05)
Oak Creek (14500)
13.32 Miles
0 - 13.32
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.
Cool-Cold Headwater, Macroinvertebrate, 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.
2020
Poor
 
This river is impaired
Chronic Aquatic Toxicity, Degraded Biological Community, Acute Aquatic Toxicity
Unknown Pollutant, Total Phosphorus, Chloride
 
Milwaukee
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.
No
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.
Yes

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.
FAL
Fish and Aquatic Life - waters that do not have a specific use designation subcategory assigned but which are considered fishable, swimmable waters.
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.
FAL
Fish and Aquatic Life - waters that do not have a specific use designation subcategory assigned but which are considered fishable, swimmable waters.
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.
Default FAL
Fish and Aquatic Life - Default Waters do not have a specific use designation subcategory but are considered fishable, swimmable waters.

Overview

Oak Creek, in the Oak Creek Watershed, is a 13.32 mile river that falls in Milwaukee County. This river is managed for fishing and swimming and is currently considered impaired.

Date  2011

Author   Aquatic Biologist

Oak Creek, Oak Creek Watershed (SE05) Fish and Aquatic LifeOak Creek, Oak Creek Watershed (SE05) RecreationOak Creek, Oak Creek Watershed (SE05) Fish Consumption

Impaired Waters

The 2018 assessments of Oak Creek showed continued impairment by chloride; new chloride sample data exceeded the 2018 WisCALM listing criteria for the Fish and Aquatic Life use. Based on the most updated information, no change in the existing impaired waters listing was needed.

Date  2017

Author  Ashley Beranek

Impaired Waters

Oak Creek was assessed during the 2016 listing cycle and chloride sample data exceed 2016 WisCALM chronic and acute listing criteria for the Fish and Aquatic Life use.

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

Reports

Recommendations

Citizen-Based Stream Monitoring
Collect chemical, physical, and/or biological water quality data to assess the current overall stream health. The data can inform management decisions and may be used to identify impaired waters for biennial lists.
Citizen-Based Stream Monitoring
Collect chemical, physical, and/or biological water quality data to assess the current overall stream health. The data can inform management decisions and may be used to identify impaired waters for biennial lists.
Engage Volunteers in Monitoring/Restoration
Continue to support Citizen Based Monitoring volunteer efforts to track total phosphorus and chloride in Oak Creek and tributaries.
TMDL Monitoring
Review wastewater and stormwater discharges in the watershed for compliance.
Engage Volunteers in Monitoring/Restoration
Recruit Citizen-Based Stream Monitors to assist with on-going Watershed monitoring.
Monitor Water Quality or Sediment
Water quality biologists should continue to monitor Oak Creek and tributaries in order to document existing conditions and capture the potential improvements from BMP installations.
Water Quality Planning
Oak Creek-Frontal Lake Michigan TWA WQM Plan (2017)
Runoff Grant - Urban Nonpoint Source & Stormwater Management - Construction
Based on the results of the phosphorus and chlorides investigation/surveys, investigate / pursue local runoff management and river/stream grants to help initiate management actions that reduce inputs of these pollutants into water resources.
Watershed Mapping or Assessment
Biological, chemical, and physical assessment of Oak Creek in support of development of a Watershed Plan.
Monitor Targeted Watershed Area (TWA)
Oak Creek-Frontal Lake Michigan TWA WQM Plan 2017 Final Draft
Water Quality Planning
Watershed specified for planning and assessment purposes. Assessment of water quality condition in this respective county will use protocols described in WisCALM of the year of assessment.
Best Management Practices, Implement
The watershed communities should continue effective implementation of their stormwater programs. Continue information and education programs within the municipalities bordering Oak Creek and tributaries. Facilitate and provide incentives for increased management by private landowners, organizations, businesses, municipalities and agencies to monitor and control the invasion of non-native species in the watershed. Restore and manage wetlands, woodlands, and shorelands in the watershed. Continue to promote stream bank buffers along Oak Creek and tributaries, including lowering stream banks to increase hydraulic connectivity to wetlands. DNR and community partners should continue to work on and promote habitat improvement projects on Oak Creek and tributaries, including pursuing the removal of concrete channels where appropriate. Additionally, where land and partners are available, pursue re-meandering straightened sections of Oak Creek and tributaries.
Monitor and/or Protect Groundwater, Sourcewater
Encourage all communities within the Watershed to continue construction site erosion and stormwater management ordinance enforcement to minimize polluted runoff in developed areas.
Fish Management, Access
Continue to expand fishing opportunities within the Watershed and remove fish passage impediments including drop structures, channel blocking woody debris, and beaver dams where documented and appropriate.
Map Invasive Species
Map invasive species.
Best Management Practices, Implement
Minimize runoff from agricultural areas in the watershed. Goals should include reducing soil erosion, runoff, and meeting nutrient management requirements. Stream bank buffers should be encouraged, as well as relaxing the slope of existing entrenched stream banks.
Best Management Practices, Implement
Federal, state, local governments, and the agricultural community should continue working to improve water quality by decreasing sedimentation, nutrient loads, chloride addition, and stormwater runoff to Oak Creek and tributaries.
Natural Community Review or Change
Oak Creek at Ryan Road was modeled as a cool-cold transition headwater, and should be changed to a cool-warm transition headwater.
Water Quality Planning
Provide input and support for the on-going development of the �Restoration Plan for the Oak Creek Watershed� which is currently being drafted by the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission with support from the surrounding communities and the Fund For Lake Michigan.

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

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

Oak Creek is located in the Oak Creek watershed which is 26.19 mi². Land use in the watershed is primarily suburban (39%), urban (33.80%) and a mix of agricultural (7.30%) and other uses (19.90%). This watershed has 48.46 stream miles, 28.09 lake acres and 440.81 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

Oak Creek is considered a Cool-Cold Headwater, Macroinvertebrate, Cool-Warm Headwater under the state's Natural Community Determinations.

Natural communities (stream and lake natural communities) represent model resultsand 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.

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.

Fish Stocking
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