Nursing an important fish stream back to health

County’s efforts to restore Mineral Springs Creek in Port highlighted during Love Our Great Lakes Day

THE MINERAL SPRINGS CREEK streambed (seen looking east from Ravine Street in Port Washington), which was washed out by a torrential rain storm in 2018, is nearly restored, Ozaukee County Planning and Parks Director Andrew Struck told people on Saturday as part of the Love Our Great Lakes Day event. Photos by Sam Arendt
By 
DAN BENSON
Ozaukee Press staff

One of Ozaukee County’s most important streams for spawning fish is nearing a return to its natural state following years of disruption due to the habitat being destroyed by heavy rainfall and an emergency response.

Ozaukee County Director of Planning and Parks Andrew Struck gave an update on the Mineral Springs Creek project Saturday for Love Our Great Lakes Day, which was attended by various officials involved in preserving Lake Michigan and its environment.

About one month remains on the first phase of restoring the creek, which runs from the Port Washington industrial park northeast until it joins Sauk Creek in Coal Dock Park.

In August 2018, the creek experienced an intense rainstorm that dropped more than nine inches of rain in less than 24 hours, exceeding a 500-year storm event, scouring the streambed and causing it to drop about four feet downstream of Ravine Street. That exposed an 18-inch sanitary sewer line.

In response, the City of Port Washington encased the pipe in concrete after checking with the state Department of Natural Resources, which told city officials to do what was needed and apply for the needed permits later.

But the DNR later determined the repair effectively created a dam that impedes fish passage, and the city must remove the obstruction.

Working with the county, which secured $730,000 in grants to restore fish passages in Mineral Springs Creek, habitat along the waterway is being restored.

The city is contributing $65,000 over three years toward the work, and has agreed to consult the county before any future work on the creek is done so officials can assess the impact on fish and give it control of Oakland Green Park, either in the form of a conservation easement or by deeding the property to the county.

The conditions are requirements of the grants.

Between 2013 and 2017, the county Planning and Parks Department, the City of Port Washington and We Energies worked on several fish passage projects on the creek.

“It’s one of our most productive streams and is home to a diverse fish population, including salmon, white suckers and a lot of forage fish,” Struck said.

One reason for that is the creek is largely fed by ground water, making the water colder than other streams, he said.

The grant funds will be used to regrade and vegetate the ravine slopes and rebuild the stream bed with larger stone that can resist movement during future storms and that will allow fish passage past the dam.

The second phase of the project will be to restore native vegetation at Oakland Green Park. Struck said that work will begin next year and could take up to two years to complete.

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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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