Honey Creek, Menomonee River Watershed (MI03)
Honey Creek, Menomonee River Watershed (MI03)
Honey Creek (16300)
8.96 Miles
0 - 8.96
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-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
Acute Aquatic Toxicity, Degraded Biological Community, Recreational Restrictions - Pathogens, Chronic Aquatic Toxicity
Chloride, Total Phosphorus, Fecal Coliform
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.
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.
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 Variance
Fish and Aquatic Life - Default Variance for DO and Pathogens. Waters do not have a specific use designation subcategory but are considered fishable, swimmable with the exception of their meeting water quality standards for dissolved oxygen and fecal coliform.


Honey Creek originates at the S. 43rd Street storm sewer outfall in the City of Greenfield and flows in a northerly direction for approximately 8.8 miles until its confluence with the Menomonee River in the City of Wauwatosa. The Honey Creek subwatershed encompasses 11 square miles and includes portions of the communities of Greenfield, Milwaukee, Wauwatosa, and West Allis. Channel modifications such as deepening, straightening, and lining with concrete have been made to 7.1 miles of Honey Creek. The Creek flows under State Fair Park in an enclosed channel that consists of 3 - 10' X 15' pipes. The Honey Creek subwatershed has experienced minor flooding problems, but the biggest problem with this Creek has been the ecological degradation and habitat loss due to channel modifications.

Honey Creek was added to the MMSD sampling program in 2003 and includes five sampling sites (HC-01 - HC-05). Baseline data will be collected for several years prior to any stream improvement projects. Sampling will continue during construction and for several years after construction is completed in order to document potential water quality improvement.

Date  2016

Author   Mmsd

Honey Creek, Menomonee River Watershed (MI03) Fish and Aquatic LifeHoney Creek, Menomonee River Watershed (MI03) RecreationHoney Creek, Menomonee River Watershed (MI03) Fish Consumption

Impaired Waters

Honey Creek was put on the impaired waters list for bacteria in 2010, phosphorus and degraded biology in 2012, and aquatic toxicity due to chloride in 2018. Evaluations in cycles 2020 and 2022 confirmed the phosphorus and chloride listings.

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.



Habitat Restoration - Instream
Opportunities exist to restore some of the traditional in-stream and riparian habitat that existed in the watershed before urbanization, while providing more stormwater buffer zone in this densely urbanized area.
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.

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


Opportunities exist to restore some of the traditional in-stream and riparian habitat that existed in the watershed before urbanization, while providing more stormwater buffer zone in this densely urbanized area.

The Milwaukee Estuary Remedial Action Plan (1995) prepared by the WDNR, lists as a goal the development of high quality aquatic and wildlife habitats. One of the objectives described in the plan was to evaluate and implement recommendations regarding removal or modification of human-made obstructions along the rivers which restrict navigation and natural fish movement (connectivity), spawning, feeding, protection, development or winter habitat. Northern pike and walleye are the top fish predators targeted by the WDNR for significant population increases as game fish in response to connectivity to spawning habitat in the Menomonee River and river tributaries.

Date  2016

Author   Army Corps Of Engineers

Watershed Characteristics

Honey Creek is located in the Menomonee River watershed which is 136.12 miĀ². Land use in the watershed is primarily suburban (34.50%), urban (32.70%) and a mix of agricultural (11.10%) and other uses (21.70%). This watershed has 174.17 stream miles, 352.64 lake acres and 5,967.40 wetland acres.

Nonpoint Source Characteristics

This watershed is ranked High for runoff impacts on streams, High 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

Honey Creek is considered a 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.

Fisheries & Habitat

The fishery of Honey Creek is dominated by forage species; however, a few smallmouth bass and channel catfish are found in the lower sections. Wildlife values consist of stops by migratory waterfowl, nesting mallards and wood ducks, and a good muskrat population. In addition, ten acres of sedge meadow adjoin the stream. Twining Park in Monroe provides picnic and playground facilities as well as 1.4 miles of public frontage on Honey Creek. Additional access is available from 15 public road crossings.

Fish Species: Central stoneroller, carp, brassy minnow, bigmouth shiner, sand shiner, southern redbelly dace, bluntnose minnow, fathead minnow, creek chub, quillback, white sucker, shorthead redhorse, channel catfish, green sunfish, smallmouth bass.

Surface Acres = 30.6, Length = 15.0 t.Jiles, Gradient = 15 ft./mi., Base Discharge = 13.4 cu. ft;/sec., Bush, D.M., R. Cornelius, D. Engle, and C.L. Brynildson. 1980. Lake and Stream Classification Project. Surface Water Resources of Green County, 2nd Edition. Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Madison, Wisconsin.

Date  1980

Author   Aquatic Biologist

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