Fish and Aquatic Life
West Branch Starkweather Creek (aka Airport Road Creek) in the Yahara River and Lake Monona Watershed, is a 2.60 mile river that falls in Dane County. This river is managed for fishing and swimming and is currently considered impaired.
Author Ashley Beranek
West Branch (Airport Creek): Sec. 5,
Surface acres = 4.i, Length = 2 miles, Stream order = I, Gradient = 3.7 ft/mile,
Base discharge = 8.8 cfs
Starkweather Creek is a slow-moving creek which drains 21.5 square miles of highly developed land on the east side of the City of Madison and discharges to the northeast side of Lake Monona at Olbrich Park. Most of its wetlands have been drained, filled, and developed for industrial, commercial, and residential purposes. The creek has been extensively altered through channelization, and the water quality in both branches is poor (Dane Cty. Reg. PIann. Comm. 1979).
The West Branch, sometimes called Airport Creek, originates In Cherokee Marsh near the Dane County Airport and is a tributary to the East Branch. In the past, the East Branch has received industrial effluent high in ammonia. Although this discharge has been eliminated, ill effects of this pollution remain (Dane Cty. Reg. Plann. Comm. 1979a). Both branches have very low gradients and consequently have elevated summer temperatures with resulting low oxygen levels.
Starkweather Creek's substrate consists of 90% silt and 10% gravel and sand. Recreational value is quite limited owing to the polluted conditions. The fish population is limited to a few forage species, except near the mouth where fish enter from Lake Monona. Public access is available from severa1 city street crossings, a boat ramp at Olbrich Park, and from Lake Monona.
Fish species: golden shiner, fathead minnow, and brook stickleback.
From: Day Elizabeth A.; Grzebieniak, Gayle P.; Osterby, Kurt M.; and Brynildson, Clifford L., Lake and Stream Classification Project. Surface Water Resources of Dane County, Department of Natural Resources, 1985.
Author Surface Water Inventory Of Wisconsin
West Branch Starkweather Creek (aka Airport Road Creek, WBIC 805200) was first placed on the Impaired Waters List in the 2016 cycle for chloride. In the 2022 cycle evaluation of phosphorus data showed impairment. This stream was placed under a special fish consumption advisory for PFOS in 2020. This stream was added to the 2022 Impaired Waters List for PFOS in fish tissue and phosphorus.
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.
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
|WBIC||Official Waterbody Name||Station ID||Station Name||Earliest Fieldwork Date||Latest Fieldwork Date||View Station||View Data|
|805200||Unnamed||133071||Starkweather Creek - W Br at Milwaukee St Bridge||7/5/1990||4/26/2022||Map||Data|
|805200||Unnamed||10039473||Unnamed Trib (805200) (W Br. Starkweather Crk) at Commercial Ave||10/24/2019||10/24/2019||Map||Data|
|805200||Unnamed||133411||Starkweather Creek - W Branch-200 Yds DS of RR Bridge (betw. James & Thorp St)||8/17/1994||2/25/2007||Map||Data|
|805200||Unnamed||10039470||Starkweather Creek at James St||Map||Data|
|805200||Unnamed||133073||Starkweather Creek North Branch at Pearson St.||Map||Data|
|805200||Unnamed||133467||Starkweather Creek - Darbo Dr||3/20/1990||3/20/1990||Map||Data|
|805200||Unnamed||133078||Starkweather Creek North Branch-North Branch at Anderson Blvd||10/21/1988||10/24/2019||Map||Data|
|805200||Unnamed||10039476||Starkweather Creek at Nine Spings Golf Course||Map||Data|
|805200||Unnamed||133079||Starkweather Creek North Branch - Fairoaks Av Sewr||10/31/1988||5/13/2017||Map||Data|
|805200||Unnamed||133075||Starkweather Creek North Branch-at E Wash Bridge-Hoard St||10/21/1988||10/21/1988||Map||Data|
|805200||Unnamed||10034911||Starkweather Creek West Branch at end of Daley Drive||12/27/2011||1/1/2015||Map||Data|
|805200||Unnamed||10039472||Starkweather Creek at Clyde Gallagher Ave and Worthington Ave||7/7/2005||1/1/2015||Map||Data|
|805200||Unnamed||133410||Starkweather Creek - W Branch betw. RR & Milwaukee St||4/6/1990||3/30/2006||Map||Data|
|805200||Unnamed||10039474||Starkweather Creek at Melvin Ct||6/8/2013||10/23/2021||Map||Data|
|805200||Unnamed||10039475||Starkweather Creek near Carpenter St||Map||Data|
|805200||Unnamed||133479||Starkweather Creek - West Branch at Fair Oaks Ave||6/20/2019||10/24/2019||Map||Data|
Unnamed is located in the Yahara River and Lake Monona watershed which is 93.73 mi². Land use in the watershed is primarily suburban (24.80%), urban (23.90%) and a mix of agricultural (14.50%) and other uses (36.90%). This watershed has 101.97 stream miles, 6,275.33 lake acres and 5,158.72 wetland acres.
Nonpoint Source Characteristics
This watershed is ranked Not Available for runoff impacts on streams, Not Available 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.