Watershed - Onion River (SH04)
Onion River Watershed

Details

The Onion River Watershed covers about 100 square miles. The Onion River flows southerly for about half its length before turning northward, entering the Sheboygan River in Rochester Park in the City of Sheboygan Falls. Belgium Creek is the only major tributary to the Onion River. There are two dams on the Onion River, which form the Waldo and Hingham impoundments. The headwaters of the Onion River are a trout stream downstream to the top of the pool formed by the Waldo dam. The headwaters, including Ben Nutt Creek and Mill Creek, have been adversely impacted by private fish ponds on major spring sources. WDNR recently purchased property in the headwaters of Ben Nutt Creek upstream of County Highway ZZ in the Town of Plymouth. This was the site of an old fish farm and the stream had been diverted into a pond and then impounded. This cold water reach is being restored and is expected to provide important spawning and rearing habitat for brook trout.

Date  2001

Population, Land Use

Land use in the watershed is primarily agricultural. The entire Village of Waldo, most of the Village of Belgium, and small portions of the Village of Cedar Grove and the City of Sheboygan Falls comprise the urban areas of the watershed.

Date  2001

Ecological Landscapes for Onion River Watershed

Ecological Landscapes

The Onion River Wateshed is located primarily within the Central Lake Michigan Coastal Ecological Landscape which stretches from southern Door County west across Green Bay to the Wolf River drainage, then southward in a narrowing strip along the Lake Michigan shore to central Milwaukee County. Owing to the influence of Lake Michigan in the eastern part of this landscape, summers there are cooler, winters warmer, and precipitation levels greater than at locations farther inland. Dolomites and shales underlie the glacial deposits that blanket virtually all of the Central Lake Michigan Coastal Ecological Landscape. The dolomite Niagara Escarpment is the major bedrock feature, running across the entire landscape from northeast to southwest. Series of dolomite cliffs provide critical habitat for rare terrestrial snails, bats, and specialized plants. The primary glacial landforms are ground moraine, outwash, and lakeplain. The topography is generally rolling where the surface is underlain by ground moraine, variable over areas of outwash, and nearly level where lacustrine deposits are present. Important soils include clays, loams, sands, and gravels. Certain landforms, such as sand spits, clay bluffs, beach and dune complexes, and ridge and swale systems, are associated only with the shorelines of Lake Michigan and Green Bay. Historically, most of this landscape was vegetated with mesic hardwood forest composed primarily of sugar maple, basswood, and beech. Hemlock and white pine were locally important, but hemlock was generally restricted to cool moist sites near Lake Michigan. Areas of poorly drained glacial lakeplain supported wet forests of tamarack, white cedar, black ash, red maple, and elm, while the Wolf and Embarrass Rivers flowed through extensive floodplain forests of silver maple, green ash, and swamp white oak. Emergent marshes and wet meadows were common in and adjacent to lower Green Bay, while Lake Michigan shoreline areas featured beaches, dunes, interdunal wetlands, marshes, and highly diverse ridge and swale vegetation. Small patches of prairie and oak savanna were present in the southwestern portion of this landscape.

Date  2010

Onion River Watershed At-a-Glance

Impaired Water in Onion River Watershed
River and Stream QualityAll Waters in Watershed

Water quality in the Onion River Watershed ranges from excellent to good in the headwater areas to fair to poor in the lower sections. Sources of pollution degrading stream water quality are agricultural and urban runoff, and point source discharges. Excessive sedimentation and channelization limit stream habitat quality. Heavy metal and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAHs) contamination is found in the sediments in the East Branch of Belgium Creek. Impoundment of headwater areas for fish hatcheries negatively impacts water quality, trout and other aquatic life. The Onion River Watershed was one of the very first watersheds targeted under the Nonpoint Source Water Pollution Abatement (Priority Watershed) Program. A follow up report found that the watershed continues to be affected by nonpoint pollution sources. The upstream reaches (above the Village of Waldo) continue to exhibit excellent to good water quality, while the downstream reaches continue to be heavily affected by agricultural runoff.

Date  2001

Watershed Trout Streams
Watershed Outstanding & Exceptional Resources

Lakes and Impoundments

Impaired Waters

List of Impaired Waters
Watershed Documents
Watershed Grants
Grant Details
Lake Protection Grant
Date
3/5/1996
Waters Involved
Unnamed
Status
Complete

Sheboygan County: Acq-Gerber Lakes Land Acquisition - Hayes Property: Sheboygan County will acquire 108.9 acres of land located in Section 35, Town of Rhine at the eastern edge of Wisconsin's Kettle Morraine for lake protection and public outdoor recreation purposes. The property includes three lakes - Big Gerber, Little Gerber, and a 1+ acre spring pond that are part of the Sheboygan River Watershed. The primary goals of the property's management plan are (1) to permanently preserve and protect the diversity and uniqueness of the existing land cover including coniferous and deciduous forest, meadow, open water, and adjoining wetland. The approximately 25 acres of upland cropland area will be established in a permanent cover of native prairie and fruit bearing shrubs and trees to eliminate future erosion into the lakes and the adjoining Otter Creek, (2) to utilize the property for natural study and appreciation, outdoor skills training, and passive recreation and enjoyment. It is anticipated that the Sheboygan County Outdoor Skills Center will relocate to the existing farm residence and buildings on the property. Eligible costs are outlined on the attached Cost Estimate Worksheet.


Grant Details
Targeted Runoff - Rural Construction
Date
9/18/2003
Waters Involved
Onion River
Status
Complete

Sheboygan County: Onion River Restoration Proj: to cost-share @70% landowner BMP installations


Grant Details
River Planning Grant
Date
10/18/2000
Waters Involved
Onion River
Status
Complete

Lakeshore Chapter Of Trout Unlimited: Onion River Project: The Lakeshore Chapter of Trout Unlimited overall goal of the Onion river Project is to return the Onion River to the high quality trout stream it once was, establishing a self-sustaining wild trout population through the improvement of water quality, flow, and trout habitat. The 3 was of improvement is: 1) Recreate and improve spawning grounds for trout, 2) Remove barriers to the upstream passage of spawning grounds, 3) Reroute stream away from an existing cowyard to reduce runoff. Intent of this project is to use data collected from this research to guide future project planning.

The DNR will be provided with both a paper copy and an electronic copy of the final report. Information will be disseminated to the public as described in the grant application.



Grant Details
River Protection Grant
Date
7/1/2003
Waters Involved
Onion River
Status
Complete

Trout Unlimited-Lakeshore Chapter: Onion River Restoration Project: This grant is to conduct a river restoration project on the Onion River in Sheboygan County, Wisconsin. The goal of the Onion River restoration project is to return the stream to its previous condition as a blue ribbon trout stream with a substantial and self-sustaining population of wild trout. This grant will be used for the improvement and restoration of the Onion River from County Highway "U" and continue upstream to County Highway "E".
A final report shall be made to the WDNR on all activities performed and completed for this grant agreement. Work will be documented in written and photographic form.
Amended scope Jan. 11, 2005 - Expand restoration footage from 2000 to 4000 feet. The work includes improving stream flow through narrowing and deepening, placement of lunkers for bank stabilization & trout habitat and placement of rock instream for habitat & food growth.


Grant Details
River Protection Grant
Date
7/1/2012
Waters Involved
Unnamed
Status
Complete

Ozaukee County: Restoration Of Aquatic Connectivity - Mineral Springs: Ozaukee County will remediate up to two large-scale and up to two non-structural impediments to fish and aquatic life passage. Conduct remediation of Division Road Crossing: The preliminary anticipated remediation of the Division Road crossing is to utilize a series of cross vanes (i.e., rock bands) into the channel to backwater the structure and incorporate native substrate to increase channel roughness and concentrate baseflow. This will eliminate the perching effect, while mitigate high velocities in spring and excessively shallow baseflow. Conduct remediation at Oakland Avenue: The preliminary anticipated remediation at Oakland Avenue is to remove the accumulated rubble and former abutments. These activities will eliminate channel constrictions and pervious fill issues, allowing for free ingress and egress of migratory fish species. Ozaukee County will complete all requisite reporting and provide project records.

The project deliverables include the following: 1) site photos (before, during, and after construction), and professionally engineered project plan sets (if required for permitting) indicating that key passage criteria (e.g., flow velocities, channel slope, etc.) were met. 2) detailed expenditure records, and any other items as requested. 3) **9** project results from ongoing County education and outreach programs, including press releases, presentations at local, regional, and national conferences, articles in County and partner newsletters, and regular updates on the Program\2019s website, Facebook, and Twitter pages.


Monitoring & Projects

Projects including grants, restoration work and studies shown below have occurred in this watershed. Click the links below to read through the text. While these are not an exhaustive list of activities, they provide insight into the management activities happening in this watershed.

Grants and Management Projects
Onion River Watershed
Watershed Recommendations
Best Management Practices, Implement
Sheboygan County Farm Nonpoint Source BMPs
Date
Status
This project is a landowner installation of nonpoint source best management practices to contribute to the restoration of Wisconsin's waters and was funded by the 319 grant.
3/13/2018
In Progress
Projects
 
Best Management Practices, Implement
Port Washington Gateway Project
Date
Status
This project is an installation of nonpoint source best management practices to contribute to the restoration of Wisconsin's waters and was funded by the 319 grant. Specifically, the municipality will construct/install a vegetated infiltration swale to remedy discharges of total suspended solids in urban runoff entering waters of the state.
1/1/2017
In Progress
Projects
 
Best Management Practices, Implement
Ozaukee County Barnyard Phosphorous Runoff Elimination
Date
Status
This project is a landowner installation of nonpoint source best management practices to contribute to the restoration of Wisconsin's waters and was funded by the 319 grant. Specifically, the grantee will implement: roofing to remedy discharges of manure, sediment and phosphorus in runoff entering waters of the state and address the following NR 151 Agricultural Performance Standards and Prohibitions: prevention of direct runoff from a feedlot or stored manure into waters of the state.
1/1/2017
In Progress
Projects
 
Best Management Practices, Implement
Saukville - Storm Water Management Plan
Date
Status
This project is an installation of nonpoint source best management practices to contribute to the restoration of Wisconsin's waters and was funded by the 319 grant. Storm water planning activities will be undertaken by the municipality and will result in the following products: updated construction erosion control ordinance, updated storm water ordinance for new development and re-development, new ordinances that affect runoff from the developed urban area, new feasibility analysis of alternative funding mechanisms, updated storm water management plan for the developed urban area, and updated storm water management plan for new development.
1/1/2016
In Progress
Projects
Documents
 
Monitor Water Quality or Sediment
Monitor Un. River (52300) for TP
Date
Status
2018 TP data exceeds criteria with 5 of 6 samples. Please review. Do not list. Issue with sampling location not representative of tributary.
8/21/2019
Proposed
 
Monitor Water Quality or Sediment
GLPF2018_LM1802_ChlorideStudy
Date
Status
Chloride Impact Study for the Southeastern Wisconsin Region
6/1/2018
In Progress
Projects
 
Stormwater Planning, Implementation
Grafton Stormwater Quality Management Plan Update
Date
Status
This project is an installation of nonpoint source best management practices to contribute to the restoration of Wisconsin?s waters and was funded by the 319 grant. Storm water planning activities will be undertaken by the municipality and will result in the following products: updated construction erosion control ordinance; updated low impact development/conservation subdivision ordinance; updated storm water ordinance for new development and re-development; other updated ordinances that affect runoff from the developed urban area; updated storm water management plan for the entire developed urban area; and an updated storm water management plan for new development.
1/1/2018
In Progress
Projects
 
Stormwater Planning, Implementation
TMDL Storm Water Control Practice Evaluation
Date
Status
Storm water planning activities will be undertaken by the municipality and will result in the following products: updated storm water management plan for the entire developed urban area; and an updated storm water management plan for new development.
1/1/2018
In Progress
Projects
 
Stormwater Planning, Implementation
City of Sheboygan Stormwater Management Plan Update
Date
Status
This project is an installation of nonpoint source best management practices to contribute to the restoration of Wisconsin?s waters and was funded by the 319 grant. Storm water planning activities will be undertaken by the municipality and will result in the following products: updated storm water management plan for the entire developed urban area; and an updated storm water management plan for new development.
1/1/2018
In Progress
Projects
 
Stormwater Planning, Implementation
City of Plymouth Stormwater Planning
Date
Status
This project is an installation of nonpoint source best management practices to contribute to the restoration of Wisconsin?s waters and was funded by the 319 grant. Storm water planning activities will be undertaken by the municipality and will result in the following products: new construction erosion control ordinance; new low impact development/conservation subdivision ordinance; new storm water ordinance for new development and re-development; other new ordinances that affect runoff from the developed urban area; and development and implementation of a new financing mechanism for funding the storm water program; and a new storm water management plan for the entire developed urban area.
1/1/2018
In Progress
Projects
 
Stormwater Planning, Implementation
City of Cedarburg TMDL Storm Water Control Practice Eval
Date
Status
Storm water planning activities will be undertaken by the municipality and will result in the following products: updated storm water management plan for the entire developed urban area; and an updated storm water management plan for new development.
1/1/2018
In Progress
Projects
 
Stormwater Planning, Implementation
Cedarburg City Wide Storm Water Quality Mgmt Plan Update
Date
Status
Storm water planning activities will be undertaken by the municipality and will result in the following products: updated construction erosion control ordinance, updated storm water ordinance for new development and re-development, updated ordinances that affect runoff from the developed urban area, updated feasibility analysis of alternative funding mechanisms, updated storm water management plan for the developed urban area, and updated storm water management plan for new development.
1/1/2016
In Progress
Projects
Documents
 
Water Quality Planning
River Basin Partnership Willow Creek
Date
Status
The impact of current and future land use on water quality conditions in Willow Creek are not well understood. Therefore, planning needs to be completed to help guide the types of BMP?s and management policies that will be needed to preserve and restore water quality and habitat in the watershed. The watershed plan can identify types of restoration and stream improvement projects that could be implemented.
12/21/2009
In Progress
Projects
 
Onion River WatershedWatershed History Note

Belgium and Waldo are two villages within the Onion River watershed. The Village of Belgium was originally populated by immigrants from Luxembourg, who were employed at a limestone quarry on the Lake Michigan shore, east of the village. A whole company town existed along the shore of Lake Michigan and the remains of the pier at which ships loaded can still be seen. Where the quarry once operated in the early 1900s, today there is a serene lake and hikers visiting Harrington Beach State Park can follow a nature trail around it. Waldo, like about a half dozen other communities in the county, is the story of two separate towns that merged; one was Waldo and the other the Village of Onion River. Onion River was originally just a post office located along the river by the same name. Government surveyors had discovered quantities of wild onions growing along the stream and so named the area accordingly. The development of Onion River was based on the water power supplied by the river. However, with the spread of the railroad transportation network, waterpower declined in importance and Waldo with its railroad eventually took in Onion River. The Village of Waldo was born when the Milwaukee and Northern Railroad was built and a depot situated in the east central part of the Town of Lyndon. The settlement which developed around the depot was known as Lyndon Station for a few years, but because there was another town by the same name in Juneau County, a new name had to be chosen. The town, an offspring of the railroad, named itself after the president of the Railroad, O.H. Waldo.

Date  2011