Silver Creek, North Branch Milwaukee River Watershed (MI05)
Silver Creek, North Branch Milwaukee River Watershed (MI05)
Silver Creek (29900)
10.50 Miles
0 - 10.50
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.
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
Total Phosphorus
Ozaukee, 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.
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.
Supported Aquatic Life
Waters that support fish and aquatic life communities (healthy biological communities).
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 sport 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.
Default FAL
Fish and Aquatic Life - Default Waters do not have a specific use designation subcategory but are considered fishable, swimmable waters.


Silver Creek, in the North Branch Milwaukee River Watershed, is a 9.90 mile river that falls in Ozaukee and Sheboygan Counties. This river is managed for fishing and swimming and is currently considered impaired.

Date  2022

Author  Ashley Beranek

Historical Description

The Silver Creek Subwatershed, located in the east-central part of the watershed, drains to Silver Creek, the Random
Lake outlet and one unnamed perennial stream. It includes four intermittent streams.

Water Resources. Silver Creek originates in Adell Swamp and is considered an intermittent stream down to STH 57.
The outlet of Random Lake contributes flow to the stream as does the discharge from the Village of Random Lake
P O W . Significant water quality problems in Silver Creek include siltation, lack of high quality in-stream habitat and
bacteriological contamination. During watershed inventories, the summer sampling period water quality standards for
bacteria were consistently violated both at STH 144 and downstream of the POTW discharge, as well as farther
downstream at CTI3: I.' Upstream farming and cattle pasturing may contribute to bacterial contamination.
Due to its small size and shallow depth, Silver Creek from the headwaters downstream to the confluence with the
Random Lake outlet supports only partial-body contact recreation. From the outlet downstream to the North Branch,
the stream can physically accommodate full-body contact but may be unhealthy due to periodic bacterial contamination.

No toxic screening has been conducted on streams in this drainage system.

Fisheries. The upper reaches of Silver Creek downstream to the confluence with the North Branch is capable of
supporting warm-water sport fish such as bass and panfish. Northern pike and a few species of intolerant forage fish
also utilize lower reaches of this stream. However, ditching of headwaters areas, barnyard runoff impacts, siltation and
extensive stream bank erosion presently limit physical habitat quality for most fish species. Small stream size will
become the primary limiting factor to recreational fisheries potential as point and nonpoint sources of pollution are

Wildlife. Over 50% of the riparian habitat in this subwatershed has been altered by row crop production, reducing
plant and wildlife species diversity. Of the remaining riparian vegetation, half is considered good wildlife habitat.
Installation of vegetative filter strips would provide nest cover, travel lands and blending of other habitat types. The
Adell public hunting grounds provides excellent white tailed deer hunting and opportunities to hunt woodcock and
waterfowl. Ektensive wetland degradation however, limits production of waterfowl, woodcock and pheasants by
reducing both surface water (important to brood habitat) and emergent vegetation which provides valuable winter cover
for pheasants.

Parks and Recreation. This subwatershed contains the largest amount of public open space in the North
Watershed. Over 1700 acres are open to the public for hunting, picnicking and as youth oriented playgrounds.
Included in this area is the Adell public hunting ground which leases and opens a number of acres to the public for
nonconsumptive wildlife observation. An environmental corridor along a tributary, creek, stream or main river stem
would protect wildlife and fish habitat, increase recreational opportunities, allow for protection of scenic areas and
provide a link between population centers. The restoration of wetlands or prairies in these areas would help protect
and maintain water quality.

Date  1990

Author   Surface Water Inventory Of Wisconsin

Historical Description

Forestry. Ten acres of land are presently enrolled under the CRP and another 569 forested acres managed under the
Forest Tax Laws. Timber harvesting is prevalent with very little clearcut logging occurring in the subwatershed.
Solid and Hazardous Waste. While there are no landfills in this subwatershed, residents have access to privately
owned landfills in neighboring areas. However, under new federal regulations the cost of operating small landfills may
precipitate closure early in the 1990's. Timely planning is important for Silver Creek Subwatershed residents because
the design and permitting process for a new landfill requires five years. Long-range planning for solid waste
management will safeguard surface and groundwater resources in the North Branch Watershed.

Water Supply. Private wells supply the water needs of residents in this drainage system. The Department regulates
only community or municipal water supply systems and does not have the authority to require well monitoring or
Prohibit the use of contaminated water. To ensure safe, potable water supplies, owners of private wells should test
water samples for bacterial and nitrate levels on a yearly basis. Testing kits are available from the State Hygiene
Laboratory or commercial firms for $7 to $30 per test. Regular inspection of well caps, pumps and casings will also
safeguard health of humans and livestock.

Water Regulation and Zoning. Regular program activities occur on a case-by-case basis and are in response to actions
or requests f?om individuals. These include, protection of wetlands through oversight of county wetland/shoreland
ordinances, and incorporation of watershed objectives into projects requiring water regulation permits.

Wastewater. The Shemgan County Sanitary District staff is responsible for on-site septic system wastewater
management in this drainage way.

Nonpoint Source. Significant nonpoint pollution sources are runoff from livestock operations, runoff from areas winter
spread with livestock manure, upland erosion, stream bank erosion and urban runoff. The loading rate of 160 pounds
of phosphorus is exceeded only by two other subwatersheds and sediment loading (597 tons per year) exceeded by
three. Of particular concern are the 223 critical acres winter spread with livestock manure and more than three miles
of unstable and eroding stream banks which contribute about 40 tons of sediment annually to the creek. Refer to the
Nonpoint Source Control Plan for the North Branch of the Milwaukee River for specific, detailed nonpoint source
pollution reduction goals and recommendations.

Date  1990

Author   Surface Water Inventory Of Wisconsin

Historical Description

Silver Creek T12N, R21E, Sections 3, 4, Surface Acres = 3.06, Length = 1.1 miles, Gradient = 1 foot per mile.
A shallow, low gradient stream originating in Sheboygan County and flowing
for about one mile along the northern border of Ozaukee County. Forage minnows
are the only fish present. It winds its way through an extensive shrub marsh area.
The principal value of this stream is waterfowl nesting. Public access is via a town
road but parking is not available.

From: Poff, Ronald J., Gernay, Ronald, and Threinen, C.W., 1964. Surface Water Resources of Ozaukee County:
Lake and Stream Classification Project. Wisconsin Conservation Department, Madison, WI.

Date  1964

Author   Surface Water Inventory Of Wisconsin

Silver Creek, North Branch Milwaukee River Watershed (MI05) Fish and Aquatic LifeSilver Creek, North Branch Milwaukee River Watershed (MI05) RecreationSilver Creek, North Branch Milwaukee River Watershed (MI05) Fish Consumption

Impaired Waters

Silver Creek was evaluated in the 2022 cycle; phosphorus levels were too high and bug communities were in poor condition. This stream was put on the impaired waters list in the 2022 cycle.

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.



Monitor Water Quality or Sediment
Insufficient mIBI data to make assessment. Further monitoring recommended.
Monitor Water Quality or Sediment
2009 data is old and the Poor score is weighing down the average. Recommend additional sampling in future to get a more accurate assessment. AU: 10076; Station ID: 10030341
Monitor Aquatic Biology
Conduct biological (mIBI or fIBI) monitoring on Silver Creek, WBIC: 29900, AU:10076
Restore Wetlands
Restore Wetlands
Monitor Water Quality or Sediment
Not recommending listing for biology based on comments from biologist during 2018 cycle - 2009 data is old and weighing down the average. Recommend additional sampling. 2018 TP data exceeds criteria with 5 of 6 samples. Please review. Agree that additional TP sampling round sampling should take place to confirm listing. Do not list this cycle. Also, additional macroinvertebrate sampling should take place.

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

Silver Creek is located in the North Branch Milwaukee River watershed which is 149.67 miĀ². Land use in the watershed is primarily agricultural (45.40%), grassland (20.30%) and a mix of wetland (15.50%) and other uses (18.80%). This watershed has 159.81 stream miles, 886.38 lake acres and 13,793.69 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

Silver Creek is considered a 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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