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Faith: We're at the Thiensville-Mequon
Dam standing next to a very innovative
fish passage project. It's part of the
National Fish Passage Program. I have
Will Wawryzn standing with us who is
gonna give a little overview of the site
and what's going on here today.
Will: Thiensville-Mequon Dam is located
about 20 miles upstream of the Milwaukee
River confluence with Lake Michigan.
Historically, the Milwaukee River
Estuary was one of the most productive
estuaries in the Lake Michigan basin for
fish and wildlife, tens of thousands of
acres of wetlands. Since European
settlement, most, if not all, of that
resource base has been lost through
modifications, engineered banks, filling
of the wetlands and so on. In addition,
the lower 15 miles of this 20-mile reach
of the Milwaukee River is heavily
urbanized. Many of the tributary streams
have been greatly modified primarily to
account for changes in land use.
They've been channelized, deepened,
widened. Their hydrology has undergone
some great modifications as a result of
all the engineered storm-sewer drainage
that goes into them. And so what we're
staring at here is probably the first
major impediment to everyone's goal of
restoring sustainable fisheries from
Lake Michigan, from the Milwaukee River
Estuary upstream. From this point on,
and a short distance downstream, a lot
of that historical habitat, spawning
habitat for some of our target species,
For example, Northern Pike, which are
very dependent on wetland habitat for
completing their spawning runs and
juvenile development. We have an active
restoration project for Lake Sturgeon,
near the village of Newburg, with the
DNR and the River Edge Nature Center
folks. We know, for instance, that many
of the sucker species, including Red
Horse, and Smallmouth Bass will migrate
tens of miles to reach historical
spawning ground. So this is sort of the
next major impediment that is gonna be
eliminated on the lower Milwaukee River.
Historically over 13 dams have been
removed in the lower Milwaukee River Basin.
There's one that's currently being
removed in Grafton and another one,
where the Ozaukee County staff is
working with a number of different
agencies to construct another fishway.
This fishway is about 1100 feet long.
It's had to be increased by a length of
about 66% because of riparian issues
related to keeping a pool of water in
perpetuity when they transferred
ownership of the millway to the village.
We're at sort of the final tweaking
phase of the project where we're
adjusting some of the elevations through
the spine of the fishway, adjusting the
dimensions of the channel to decrease
velocities to make it easier for fish to
move up the fishway.
And, as a result, we'll have a test flow
through the system probably within the
next week. Aside from making some final
adjustments on the fishway itself, we'll
be doing some landscaping with native
plants in the next couple of days, and
we've also been fortunate to have a
number of volunteers from the Milwaukee
Service Community Center.
Matt: Community Service Corps.
Will: Service Corps. They've brought in
at least 16 individuals to help us do
some fine tuning on the weirs, as well
as to adjust and make some modifications
to the biologs for purposes of
landscaping and bioengineered banks, as
well as some volunteers from Milwaukee
River Keepers and some residents in the
basin, a total of 24 people today. So
we're very excited. They've made short
notice on some of the last few items we
had to complete for this project.
Faith: Tom, tell us a little bit about
the regional plan for the area.
Tom: Sure. Projects like this are
extremely vital because one of the
things we found as part of the regional
water quality management plan for the
Great Lakes watersheds here which
includes the Milwaukee, the Root and the
Menomonee Rivers and the areas
surrounding there, is that fragmentation
due to dams and roadway, culverts, and
bridges, among other aspects in these
stream channels are absolutely
fragmenting fisheries populations and
decreasing their abilities to access
areas for food and for shelter, and then
for natural reproduction into certain areas.
So it is a vital component and essential
to the overall future for recovery of
these species and for the abundance and
diversity, and maintenance of the
abundance and diversity, for native
fishes, which is why the Recovery Act
monies are so huge for the entire area and this region.
[End of Audio]
Title: Alternative to Dam Removal: Wisconsin Fish Passage Project Milwaukee River at Thiensville, Wisconsin
Faith Fitzpatrick (U.S. Geological Survey), Matt Aho (Ozaukee County), Tom Slawski (Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission), and Will Wawrzyn (Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources) discuss habitat fragmentation in urban streams and how a new fishway around the dam on the Milwaukee River at Thiensville addresses fish passage without removing the dam.
Location: WI, Milwaukee River at Thiensville, USA
Date Taken: 11/16/2010
Video Producer: Douglas A. Harned , National Water-Quality Assessment Program (NAWQA), USGS, North Carolina Water Science Center, Raleigh, NC
Note: This video has been released into the public domain by the U.S. Geological Survey for use in its entirety. Some videos may contain pieces of copyrighted material. If you wish to use a portion of the video for any purpose, other than for resharing/reposting the video in its entirety, please contact the Video Producer/Videographer listed with this video. Please refer to the USGS Copyright section for how to credit this video.
Additional Video Credits:
Faith Fitzpatrick: Scriptwriter, Narrator, Scientist Consultant
Gerard McMahon: Producer
Douglas Harned: Producer, Video, Editor
Alan Cressler: Video
Luke McMahon: Video
Matt Aho (Ozaukee County)
Tom Slawski Tom Slawski (Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission)
Will Wawrzyn (Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources)
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