Menominee River, Wausaukee and Lower Menominee Rivers Watershed (GB13)
Menominee River, Wausaukee and Lower Menominee Rivers Watershed (GB13)
Menominee River (609000)
39.59 Miles
3.45 - 43.04
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, Coldwater, 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
PCBs Contaminated Fish Tissue
Mercury, PCBs
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 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.
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.


The Menominee River originates just north of this watershed near Florence, WI at the confluence of the Brule River (GB18) and Michigan's Michigamme River. The Menominee flows southerly for 118 miles before joining the waters of Green Bay. Hydroelectric development has been extensive along the Menominee River.

Dams have converted 37 percent of the river mileage to impoundments, primarily in areas of higher gradient. More than 70 percent of river with a gradient greater than four feet per mile has been flooded by dam development. These high gradient reaches are the most productive in terms of aquatic insects and are important for fish spawning habitat. Losses of high gradient rapids in this watershed include: the Pemene Rapids, which drops 20 feet in two miles: the Chalk Hill Rapids, which drops eight feet in a half mile; and White Rapids, which drops 41 feet in four miles. A total of 6.75 miles of high gradient river, important as sport fish spawning areas, has been lost. Horse Race and Sturgeon Falls rapids have also suffered losses. Additionally, the river in this watershed suffers habitat degradation due to peaking in hydroelectric operations.

Lake sturgeon, walleye, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, northern pike, muskellunge, yellow perch, panflsh, suckers, bullhead, carp and forage species are found in the Menominee River. Low levels of dioxin have been detected in large carp in the Norway-Quinnesec area. Although levels are less than the current "state action level," the presence of these compounds is a concern. Fish taste and odor problems have also been reported from this area of the river and are seriously impacting sport fishing. Initial testing indicates that the Champion Mill at Quinnesec, Michigan may be responsible, but further testing is underway to ascertain the exact cause and nature of the problem. The Menominee River is managed as a boundary water by Wisconsin and Michigan. A specific set of fishing regulations apply to the river. Fish managers and law enforcement personnel from both states develop these regulations to protect and conserve the aquatic resources of the river.

The 20 miles of river between Chalk Hills Flowage and Sturgeon Falls Dam is a beautiful and valuable resource. This section of river is mostly undeveloped with two natural water falls, Quiver Falls and Pemene Falls. Numerous rock outcrops, rapids, and deep pools make this one of the most scenic sections of the Menominee River. Most of the riparian property is owned by power companies.

In the last century, sawmills deposited sawdust and slabwood directly in the river and in adjacent marshes. Many of these wastes are still present today. Dissolved oxygen levels below the 5 parts per million state water quality standard have been found below the White Rapids and Little Quimesec hydroelectric dams.

Date  1993

Author   Aquatic Biologist

Historical Description

Wisconsin and Michigan, with support and cooperation from local communities, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the International Joint Commission (IJC) of Canada and the United States are developing a remedial action plan (RAP) for the lower three miles of the Menominee River and adjacent Green Bay shoreline. The area has been designated by IJC as one of 43 Great Lakes Area of Concern, so identified because of use impairments due to water quality. The purpose of the plan is to address and eventually clean up contamination problems which persist in the river despite the considerable efforts and money already spent to remedy water pollution problems. Once the RAP is completed and formally approved, it will become an amendment to this WQM plan. Additional information on Great Lakes RAPS is available in the brochure Remedial Action Plans for Areas of Concern published by the International Joint Commission and available from DNR and in the 1992 Wisconsin Water Quality Assessment Report to Congress.
Impaired uses identified in the Lower Menominee River RAP include:
* restricted dredging,
* restricted fish consumption,
* degraded fish and wildlife habitat,
* degraded fish populations,
* degraded communities of bottom-dwelling organisms, and
* total and partial body contact restrictions.

Toxic pollutants in the sediments are a major concern in the lower Menominee River. The in-place pollutants in some of the sediment deposition zones in the river include arsenic, oil and grease, phosphorus, ammonia-nitrogen, cyanide, lead, manganese, cadmium, mercury, copper and zinc. Arsenic is found at elevated concentrations in the turning basin area of the river, adjacent to Ansul Fire Protection's property. A facility investigation and corrective measures study of the site are under development through the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) program. This program includes assessing the extent and impact of the contamination and, if necessary, implementation of a corrective action plan.

Date  1993

Author   Surface Water Inventory Of Wisconsin

Historical Description

Monitoring recommendations in this WQM plan will assist in developing assessment and remediation strategies. A recent invader in the Great Lakes, zebra mussels, have spread into the waters of Green Bay and have moved into inland waters. Zebra mussels pose a threat to water intake systems, which become clogged with the mussels, and have been known to impact recreational activities such as boating and fishing. The mussel has qulckly spread since the first adult mussels were discovered in Lake Michigan in 1990. A mature mussel can produce 30,000 to 40,000 eggs per season and the mussels can survive out of water as long as 30 days, leading to the potential for further introduction into inland waters as boats are moved from waterbody to waterbody. There are three hydroelectric dams operating on this portion of the Menominee River. The upper and lower Scott dams are owned and operated by Scott Paper Company. The Grand Rapids dam is owned and operated by Wisconsin Public Service. The latter dam inundates a two-mile stretch of rapids, which historically was a major spawning area for many fish species including lake sturgeon. Data from the USGS gauging station downstream of Grand Rapids indicate flows in the river fluctuate as a result of dam operations. The facility is not operating in a peaking mode: however, the flows are not run-of-river flows. An application for relicensing of the Grand Rapids dam was submitted to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in 199 1. Additional information on the impoundments created by these dams is included in the Lakes Report. For more information see the original document.

Date  1993

Author   Surface Water Inventory Of Wisconsin

Menominee River, Wausaukee and Lower Menominee Rivers Watershed (GB13) Fish and Aquatic LifeMenominee River, Wausaukee and Lower Menominee Rivers Watershed (GB13) RecreationMenominee River, Wausaukee and Lower Menominee Rivers Watershed (GB13) Fish Consumption

Impaired Waters

The Menominee River (WBIC 609000) from the mouth at Lake Michigan to the top of Piers Gorge Road near Niagara was listed for contaminated sediment and fish tissue in 1998. This water was assessed during the 2018 listing cycle; new total phosphorus, biological (macroinvertebrate and fish Index of Biotic Integrity (IBI) scores), and chloride sample data were clearly below the 2018 WisCALM listing thresholds for the Fish and Aquatic Life use. This water continues to be impaired.

Date  2017

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.



Restore Riparian Habitat
The goal is to revitalize the venerable lake sturgeon of Lake Michigan by reconnecting existing populations with historic spawning and rearing habitat in the Menominee River.
Sewer Service Area Planning
The City of Marinette planning area consists of approximately 25,421 acres (39 square miles) and is located in the southeastern portion of Marinette County. It is bordered to the north by the Menominee River and to the east by the bay of Green Bay.
Sediment Remediation Phase 5 - Implementation
Focused Non-Aqueous Phase Liquid (NAPL) and Sediment Removal Action. Remediation of Menominee River by MGP.
Monitor Fish Tissue
609000 name Menominee River TMDL ID 672 Start Mile 43.21 End Mile 87.8

Standards Details

This water, from the mouth to the Scott Dam (proposed CW addition).

Date  2010

Author   Aquatic Biologist

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

Menominee River is located in the Wausaukee and Lower Menominee Rivers watershed which is 187.05 mi². Land use in the watershed is primarily forest (49.50%), wetland (34.50%) and a mix of grassland (6.30%) and other uses (9.70%). This watershed has 204.27 stream miles, 5,835.97 lake acres and 33,470.94 wetland acres.

Nonpoint Source Characteristics

This watershed is ranked Low for runoff impacts on streams, Not Ranked for runoff impacts on lakes and Low for runoff impacts on groundwater and therefore has an overall rank of Low. 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

Menominee River is considered a Macroinvertebrate, Coldwater, 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.

More Interactive Maps
Maps of Watershed