Milwaukee Riverkeeper works to connect science, policy and community to raise the grade


Today, Milwaukee Riverkeeper announces the release of its 6th Annual Milwaukee River Basin Report Card. Every year, Milwaukee Riverkeeper provides details about the health of the Milwaukee River Basin’s three rivers (the Milwaukee, Menomonee, and Kinnickinnic) with the help of an ever-growing group of engaged citizen scientists, university researchers, and partnerships with key government agencies.

Overall, the Milwaukee River Basin received a C- in 2015, showing little variation from 2014, but still showing improvement from 2011’s overall D+ grade. While the best grade for a watershed was a B+ (Cedar Creek and the East & West Branch of the Milwaukee River Watershed) and the lowest was a D+ (Menomonee River), results from the last half decade of monitoring have been fairly consistent.

This year, Milwaukee Riverkeeper staff analyzed water quality data collected by more than 75 volunteer water monitors, the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewage District (MMSD), and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR). Milwaukee Riverkeeper staff compares all of this data to state and federal water quality standards and guidance, and then assigns letter grades based on whether or not the watersheds meet these standards. Watershed grades are determined by averaging results from nine water quality parameters including water temperature, dissolved oxygen, pH, turbidity, phosphorus, chloride, conductivity, macroinvertebrates and bacteria, across all Milwaukee River Basin watersheds.

Milwaukee Riverkeeper’s Water Quality Specialist, Zac Driscoll, says, “When we consistently measure these parameters and compare them across time and location, we start to create a larger picture of watershed health. And then, based on what that picture reveals, we can act to improve water quality. We’re also really strategic in thinking about when and where our volunteers measure these parameters and coordinate with other groups and agencies.”

You can view Milwaukee Riverkeeper’s report card┬áhere.