Manitowoc River, Lower Manitowoc River Watershed (MA02)
Manitowoc River, Lower Manitowoc River Watershed (MA02)
Manitowoc River (71000)
18.71 Miles
2.03 - 20.74
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 Mainstem
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
Degraded Biological Community, PCB Contaminated Sediments, PCBs Contaminated Fish Tissue
PCBs, Total Phosphorus
 
Manitowoc
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.
WWSF
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.
WWSF
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.

Overview

The main stem of the Manitowoc River, formed by the confluence of the North and South branches of the
Manitowoc River, flows eastwardly approximately 36 miles before entering Lake Michigan at the city of
Manitowoc. The river has two distinct portions: The upper half, above Clarks Mills, is wide, sluggish, and
marshy with a soft bottom and a gradient of about one foot per mile; below Clark Mills, the gradient
increases to about 12 feet per mile, the river becoming shallow and fast, with a bottom composed
primarily of rock in sizes from gravel to boulder, with an occasional sand bar. The steep gradient
continues 16.4 miles downstream to the Manitowoc Rapids where 4.8 miles upstream from Lake
Michigan the river slows as it approaches lake level. This lower stretch of river has deep natural pools and
dredged areas (Peeters 1990). The overall water quality, based on the Hilsenhoff Biotic Index, was good
(1990) at the two stations monitored below the Clarks Mills Dam. The stream habitat evaluation at these
same sites were fair to good (1990). One site was also monitored above the Clarks Mills Dam. The biotic
index rated the stream as fair and the stream habitat as good (WDNR 1995). Additional monitoring will
be conducted on the Manitowoc River as part of the basin long-term water quality trend assessment. Refer
to the recommendations report for more information.
Historic reductions in the percentage of forested and wetland vegetation have resulted in a watershed that
lacks adequate opportunities for infiltration and retention of precipitation and snow melt resulting in
flashy runoff which overwhelms existing stream channels and aquatic habitat. This excessive runoff also
strips valuable sediments and nutrients from the terrestrial environment and delivers them to our streams
and lakes where they result in degraded water quality and poorer habitat which can kill sensitive and
intolerant fish and aquatic invertebrates. Flashy runoff also limits the amount of water available to
sustain adequate flows during drought. Restoration efforts should focus on increasing the overall
percentage of forested and wetland vegetation in this watershed to restore a more natural hydrologic
regime and minimize the impacts of flashy runoff and an altered hydrologic regime.
Most of the land use along the river is agricultural. The upper reaches are extensive river bottoms that are
difficult, if not impossible, to farm in some locations. These wet soils are conducive to erosion and
runoff; the lower reach of the river flows through Manitowoc. There are nearly 150 acres of adjoining
wetlands in the vicinity to the west of the Collins Marsh area. The wide-open, non-wooded stretch of river
10 miles upstream of Clarks Mills is a wildlife area of concern.
Beginning in the 1960s and continuing into the 1980s, the area of the Manitowoc River below the dam at
Manitowoc Rapids was managed as part of the Lake Michigan trout and salmon program. When the trout
and salmon program began in the 1960s, hatchery trucks simply delivered trout and salmon to Lake
Michigan harbors. Trout and salmon stocking programs have changed throughout the years with modified
fish management techniques. Tiger trout are no longer stocked; coho salmon stockings were moved to the
south end of Lake Michigan, and lake trout stockings were moved to reefs in protected refuges.
In the 1970s and early 1980s, snagging of fish was allowed in rivers where salmon had been stocked and
were returning as mature adults on a dead end spawning run. As part of this policy, chinook salmon were
stocked and snagging was permitted in the Manitowoc River.

From: Willman, Guy and Mike Toneys. 2001. The State of the Lakeshore Basin. Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Madison, WI.

Date  2001

Author  Michael Toneys

Overview

In the early 1980's, an internal WDNR steelhead trout committee worked to improve a faltering rainbow trout program, placing emphasis on stocking improved steelhead strains of rainbow trout in select rivers to improve the recreational fishery. Snagging was not compatible with this program, which established guidelines precluding steelhead stocking in rivers where snagging was allowed.
In 1983, the dam on the Manitowoc River at Manitowoc Rapids was removed. In preparation for developing a steelhead trout project on the Manitowoc River, chinook salmon stocking was moved away from the river in 1983, and in 1984, the snagging season was discontinued in the Manitowoc River. The Manitowoc River is one of the Lake Michigan tributaries managed by WDNR as a Class I steelhead stream and as such receives annual smolt stockings of the chambers creek, ganaraska and skamania strains of steelhead. The river also receives stocking of brook trout, brown trout, chinook and coho salmon.
In 1944, the Oslo dam on the Manitowoc River upstream of North Union Road was abandoned. A section of the dam failed in the 1960's, and in 1985, the dam was breached and much of the material was removed from the stream to allow upstream migration of fish. Finally the dam was removed in the early 1990's. The Manitowoc Fish and Game Club developed the site as a public angler access area (Surendonk 1996).
Fish management of the Manitowoc-Branch River system changed significantly in the spring of 1986 when, as part of the larger steelhead trout study, anadromous strain steelhead were stocked in the Branch River. From 1986 through 1988, more than 430,000 steelhead smolt were stocked in the Branch River. These steelhead smolt were released in an upriver area to improve imprinting and subsequent homing by adults to the Manitowoc-Branch River system. Fall fingerling coho were also stocked into the Manitowoc River system in 1988. This representsed the first plant of coho in the Manitowoc River in more than a decade. Ongoing steelhead syurveys will facilitate evaluations of this coho plant. A WDNR Lake Michigan Steelhead Management Plan calls for continued steelhead sotcking in the Manitowoc-Branch River system. Currently, Fisheries staff stock chinook and coho salmon, brown trout, brook trout, and two strains of steelhead in the Manitowoc River.
A U.S. Geological Survey gaging station is located on the Manitowoc River on the right bank 300 fett upstream from the County Trunk Highway JJ bridge, just west of the Manitowoc sity limits and 6.6 miles upstream of the mouth. Discharge data has been collected since July 1972.

From: Willman, Guy and Mike Toneys. 2001. The State of the Lakeshore Basin. Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Madison, WI.

Date  2001

Author  Michael Toneys

Manitowoc River, Lower Manitowoc River Watershed (MA02) Fish and Aquatic LifeManitowoc River, Lower Manitowoc River Watershed (MA02) RecreationManitowoc River, Lower Manitowoc River Watershed (MA02) Fish Consumption

Impaired Waters

Manitowoc River (WBIC 71000) from Revere Street in Manitowoc to Clarks Mills dam was placed on the impaired waters list for total phosphorus in 2012. The 2018 assessments showed continued impairment by phosphorus; new total phosphorus sample data exceeded the 2018 WisCALM listing criteria for the Fish and Aquatic Life use. Available biological data did not indicate impairment (i.e. no macroinvertebrate or fish Index of Biotic Integrity (IBI) scored in the "poor" condition category). Based on the most updated information, no change in the existing impaired waters listing was needed.

Date  2017

Author  Ashley Beranek

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

Monitor Baseline Survey
Biological, Chemical and physical baseline survey
Partnership Project
Lakeshore Natural Resources Partnership (LNRP) is sponsoring a project to support Friends of the Manitowoc River Watershed as the group continues to build appreciation for and stewardship for the Manitowoc River and near shore Lake Michigan ecosystems. Project final deliverables include: all data collected, agendas and minutes for planning meetings, presentations, newsletters and educational materials provided to the public. Specific project activities include: 1) Hold a Manitowoc River Cleanup event; 2) Conducting a Project RED event on the Manitowoc River; 3) Hosting three River Paddle educational events; 4) AIS Snap Shot Day mapping event along the Manitowoc and Little Manitowoc Rivers; 5) Hosting educational seminars; 6) Hosting two Lake Michigan Beach clean-up events; 7) Support the B-Wet Watershed Experiences educational curriculum.
Partnership Project
Lakeshore Natural Resources Partnership (LNRP) is sponsoring a project to support Friends of the Manitowoc River Watershed as the group continues to build appreciation for and stewardship for the Manitowoc River. Project final deliverables include: all data collected, agendas and minutes for planning meetings, presentations, newsletters and educational materials provided to the public. Specific project activities include: 1) Providing care for Lower Schutte Park including monthly State of the Park reports and installation of Porta-potties; 2) Hold a Manitowoc River Clean-up event; 3) Conducting a Project RED event on the Manitowoc River; 4) Hosting a Subfest River Paddle educational event; 5) Mapping invasive species in the Manitowoc and Little Manitowoc Rivers utilizing the AIS bridge Snapshot day protocols; 6) Hosting educational seminars; 7) Hosting Lake Michigan Beach clean-up events; 8) Hosting Watershed Ambassador Camp.
Partnership Project
Lakeshore Natural Resources Partnership (LNRP) is sponsoring a project to support Friends of the Manitowoc River Watershed as the group continues to build appreciation for and stewardship for the Manitowoc River. Project final deliverables include: all data collected, agendas and minutes for planning meetings, presentations, newsletters and educational materials provided to the public. Specific project activities include: 1) Providing care for Lower Schutte Park; 2) Facilitating funding and design of a new kayak launch at the park; 3) Hosting river clean-up event; 4) Conducting a Project RED event; 5) Hosting a Subfest River Paddle event; 6) Mapping invasive species in the Manitowoc and Little Manitowoc Rivers utilizing the AIS bridge Snapshot day protocols; 7) Hosting educational seminars; 8) Hosting Lake Michigan Beach clean-up events; 9) Hosting Watershed Ambassador Camp.
Partnership Project
Lakeshore Natural Resources Partnership (LNRP) proposes to continue to build capacity for educating the community about issues impacting the Lower Manitowoc River Watershed by 1) holding three seminars and one week long Watershed Ambassador Camp, 2) holding two Lake Michigan Beach and one Manitowoc River cleanup events, 3) write a state of Lower Schuette Park report, 4) hold at least one river paddle and one Project RED event, 5) map locations of invasive species and develop plans for removal, and 6) release at least six newspaper articles, along with fliers and other forms of advertising and outreach for all events. LNRP will submit a final report summarizing the project to the Department.
Partnership Project
Lakeshore Natural Resources Partnership proposes to continue to build capacity and implement the work plan for the Friends of the Manitowoc River Watershed. Specifically, Lakeshore Natural Resources Partnership will conduct a membership drive, host seminars, workshops, and river events. River events will include river clean-ups, interpretative paddles on the river, Watershed Ambassador Summer Camp, and Project RED training and implementation.
Partnership Project
The Lakeshore Natural Resources Partnership, Inc. will build the capacity and membership of the newly forming citizen group calling themselves the Friends of the Manitowoc River Watershed. Specifically, Lakeshore Natural Resources Partnership will develop and implement a membership drive utilizing WaterGrass software, host three water seminars, host at least six explore and restore river events, and conduct outreach by preparing newsletters and newspaper article releases.
Partnership Project
The Lakeshore Natural Resources Partnership, Inc. proposed to supplement and build on previous work by partners to raise public awareness and participation in water stewardship. Specifically, Lakeshore Natural Resources Partnership will focus on building the capacity and membership of the Friends of the Branch River, Friends of the Pine Creek, and Friends of Hika Bay and Centerville Creek groups. Activities for each group includes a water seminar, an explore and restore river event, and a paint-out event with the Water's Edge Artists, and several newsletters and newspaper articles releases. The overall project goals are to enhance the watershed stewardship groups existing within the project area by building their capacity to reach and engage local citizens and officials, provide citizens and officials with opportunities to participate in protecting and restoring the rivers, and raise citizens' and officials' awareness and understanding of the threats to rivers in the project area.
Partnership Project
The Lakeshore Natural Resources Partnership, Inc. proposes to supplement and build on previous work by partners to raise public awareness and participation in water stewardship. Specifically, Lakeshore Natural Resources Partnership will focus on building the capacity and membership of the Friends of the Branch River and the Friends of the Pine River groups. Activities for each group includes a water seminar and membership banquet, an explore and restore river event that includes litter clean-up, a paint-out event with the Water's Edge Artists, and a fall and spring newsletter. The overall project goals are to enhance the watershed stewardship groups existing within the project area by building their capacity to reach and engage local citizens and officials, provide citizens and officials with opportunities to participate in protecting and restoring the rivers, and raise citizens' and officials' awareness and understanding of the threats to rivers in the project area.
Citizen-Based Stream Monitoring
The City of Manitowoc in cooperation with the Wisconsin Maritime Museum proposes to establish a Manitowoc River Watershed citizen stewardship volunteer group. The Museum will host two stream monitoring workshops to train interested volunteers, coordinate youth educational activities including storm drain stenciling, host three watershed educational programs, and develop growth and sustainability of the group and its programs by developing a fund-raising strategy.
Navigability Determination
SW SE S24 T20N R19E; North Branch Manitowoc River, trib;
TMDL Monitoring
TMDL Development
Monitoring to develop TMDL
Sewer Service Area Planning
Section 208 of the Clean Water Act requires local agencies, designated by the Governor, or the State Water Quality Agency (in Wisconsin, the Department of Natural Resources herein referred to as WDNR), to prepare Areawide Water Quality Management Plans.
Nine Key Element Plan
Lower Manitowoc River PWS Plan - Nine Key Element Plan - The Lower Manitowoc River Priority Watershed Project plan assesses the nonpoint sources of pollution in the Lower Manitowoc River Watershed and guides the implementation of nonpoint source control measures. These control measures are needed to meet specific water resource objectives for the Lower Manitowoc River and its tributaries. The purpose of this project is to reduce the amount of pollutants originating from nonpoint sources that reach surface water and groundwater within the Lower Manitowoc River Priority Watershed Project area.

Standards Details

Proposed phase II CW Addition: From the dam in Clarks Mills to Lake Michigan at the City of Manitowoc.

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

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

Manitowoc River is located in the Lower Manitowoc River watershed which is 168.33 miĀ². Land use in the watershed is primarily agricultural (47%), wetland (19.50%) and a mix of grassland (17.90%) and other uses (15.50%). This watershed has 264.70 stream miles, 2,910.36 lake acres and 19,995.06 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

Manitowoc River is considered a Warm Mainstem 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.

Warm Mainstem waters are moderate-to-large but still wadeable perennial streams with relatively warm summer temperatures. Coldwater fishes are absent, transitional fishes are common to uncommon, and warm water fishes are abundant to common. Headwater species are common to absent, mainstem species are abundant to common, and river species are common to absent.

Fish Stocking
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