Public input sought on state of Sheboygan River

A significant reduction in phosphorus and decreased algae in the Sheboygan River have resulted in a proposal by the Wisconsin Department of Resources to remove one of the beneficial use impairments for the river.

DNR is seeking public comments through Sept. 17 on the proposal to remove the “Eutrophication or Undesirable Algae” beneficial use impairment from the Sheboygan River Great Lakes Area of Concern.

“Removing this impairment designation is the next step forward in the ongoing improvement plan for the river and signifies an important achievement in restoring the waterway,” said Camille Bruhn, Sheboygan River AOC coordinator for DNR. “Following the public comment period, we will submit the proposal to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and we look forward to additional progress in the months ahead.”

In 1987, a 14-mile stretch of the Sheboygan River from the Sheboygan Falls Dam to the harbor of Lake Michigan was designated as an Area of Concern under the EPA process to systematically improve the waters of the Great Lakes region.

The Sheboygan River has suffered from severe pollution as a result of agricultural, urban and industrial activity in the area.

In another positive sign of the river’s turnaround, in August EPA approved DNR’s request to remove another impairment that limited dredging.

While major improvements to water quality have occurred in the Sheboygan River AOC, additional phosphorus reductions need to occur in the watershed to meet all of the water quality goals. Other programs will continue to focus on these water quality improvement efforts.

Citizens are being asked to comment on the most recent findings that led to the department’s preliminary conclusion to seek removal of the eutrophication impairment. These findings include a significant decrease in phosphorus concentrations from approximately 0.4millligrams per liter in 1977 to 0.1 milligrams per liter in 2015.

At the same time, dissolved oxygen concentrations at the Esslingen Park site on the Sheboygan River have consistently been above the target concentration of 5 milligrams per liter – a sign that there is enough oxygen in the water to support diverse fish and plant communities.

Bruhn said the health of key fish and macroinvertebrate populations such as insect larvae also continues to improve in the river.

A copy of the document proposing removal of the impairment can be found by visiting DNR.wi.gov and searching for “Sheboygan River.” http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/greatlakes/sheboygan.html. A copy also is available at the Mead Public Library in Sheboygan, 710 N. Eighth St., Sheboygan, Wis., 53081. Submit comments by Sept. 17 to Camille.Bruhn@ wisconsin.gov or Camille Bruhn, Sheboygan River AOC coordinator, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, 1155 Pilgrim Road, Plymouth, Wis. 53073.


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