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Riverkeepers/Friends of Milwaukee's Rivers

Discussion in 'Places to Paddle' started by Howard Caplan, Oct 7, 2008.

  1. Howard Caplan

    Howard Caplan Wooden Canoe Maniac

    I was just accepted to the board of a local group called Friends of Milwaukee's Rivers. The name will be changed very soon to Riverkeepers.
    I have worked a bit with this group over the years. Several years ago we completed a mapping project listing entry and take out points along the Milwaukee river. The Milwaukee river like many urban rivers was the sewer for Milwaukee for way too long. In recent years, the DNR has begun removing dams which trapped many nasties. With the removal projects, the nasties were dealt with in, usually, a good manner and the river flows freer then in the past and has become cleaner. Lake trout and salmon can now get up-river to spawn and while we should not eat the fish, fishing in the system is much improved as is the wildlife. A pair of Eagles have nested for the first time in over 100 years in Southeast Wisconsin.

    I am wondering if any of you have experience with groups committed to cleaning up rivers and getting people back to the rivers for recreational useage. I would love to hear any personal experiences you may have had with these groups and maybe even resistance from the powers that be as you attempted to gain more access to urban rivers.

    Howard
     
  2. Denis M. Kallery

    Denis M. Kallery Passed Away July 3, 2012 In Memoriam

    Good Job Howard -and congratulations!
    Years ago 1969 to be exact I was with the USFWS Sea lamprey control. We worked on the Pestigo searching for Sea lamprey. The river was so polluted at that time they did not exist. By the time I resigned in 1978 it had cleansed itself so that there were transformers [those transforming from larval to adult]caught heading out to Lake Michigan. Though the lamprey is a very ancient fish it is very susceptible to pollution. It takes several years for the transformers to develop.
    Though the cleansing of the Pestigo didn't bode well for the Great Lakes Fishery it was a very positive for the environment.
    Denis
     
  3. OP
    OP
    Howard Caplan

    Howard Caplan Wooden Canoe Maniac

    Thanks Dennis. Ya, you were talking about your work with USFWS a few weeks ago at the canoe event. I used to raft on the Pestigo every spring but got a bit bored with the boozing and good times we all had.
    One of the problems we are having in the city, on the river, are the PCBs that are located at one particular removed dam site. The contractor who removed the dam attempted to trap the PCPs in the river mud with a concrete grid layed down. I was not surprised when the grid was completely tore shortly after the second year's spring flooding. So the contractor came back and layed the same stuff down again. It only took one spring flood this time to destroy the gridworks. They then brought in boulders and big stuff like that and created, in high water, a nice flow through and in low water a very dangerous passage. I think in the near future, this will become an issue, again.

    There is also something brewing with Evenrude who took responsibility for one clean up but are fighting efforts for them to take responsibility for the rest of the cleanup. I think most of the PCBs in our whole system are from Evenrude - but not sure - don't want to get sued.
    Howard
     
  4. Canerodz

    Canerodz Trout Bum

  5. OP
    OP
    Howard Caplan

    Howard Caplan Wooden Canoe Maniac

    Thanks for the link, Brian.
    I went to the first board meeting last night. We are now "officially" the Milwaukee Riverkeepers and received some money to run some ads in the local paper. I guess, the Friends of Milwaukee's Rivers has been a licensed "Riverkeeper" org for several years and now it's our official name.
    Over the past several weeks, some of our people has been taking water samples from outflow pipes that drain into the Menomonee River. They have found upwards of 18,000 times the amount of acceptable e-coli in some of the samples. Interestingly, once the flow data was reported to the sewage district and/or the local municipalities, several structural problems were identified as the problem - like busted pipes, valves, etc and were quickly fixed.
    Howard
     
  6. Canerodz

    Canerodz Trout Bum

    Nobody needs that kind of press, and most of the municipalities really want to do a good job, their employees want to be proud of their work, but I imagine that the money to run around and test all the outflow pipes is pretty scarce right now. It sounds like your organization has a wonderful opportunity to develop a cooperative tone with the waste water folks. Offer to help carry the water for them (so to speak ;) ) with the local elected officials and press and your work will go faster and easier. Remember that the first round of Clean Water Act money was only 30-some years ago. There are still thousands of municipal water treatment facilities that don't meet standards due to prioritization of work and lack of public awareness. I imagine most people think that this is a problem we fixed years ago.

    Groups that get adversarial with the guys working witthin a system they don't control do more harm than good. Fortunately, you are in Wisconsin where folks are used to working cooperatively.
     

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