Our Work and Our Mission
Environmental challenges in the watersheds include erosion, rapid runoff and fish passage blockage at road/stream crossings.
Our mission is to promote and protect clean water resources in Wisconsin’s Lake Superior basin. Since its inception in 2002, SRWA has been accomplishing this through pursuit of the following goals:
- To establish baseline environmental data to develop a deeper understanding of the watersheds of our region,
- Provide relevant information to local governments and agencies to promote responsible and effective decision-making on issues affecting the watersheds, and,
- To facilitate grassroots involvement through outreach programs, volunteer opportunities and to provide forums for education and informed discussion of watershed issues.
Prior to the formation of SRWA and BRWA, little water resource data for the watersheds existed. To address this, SRWA developed a Water Quality Monitoring Program addressing both chemical and biological parameters.
Over the past 15 years of implementation, these programs have established SRWA as a key player in gathering and exchanging information across a broad range of jurisdictions. Our water quality data were used to help designate 180 river-miles as Outstanding or Exceptional Resource Waters by the state of Wisconsin. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service has included our water temperature data in computer modeling to assess the effects of climate change on local water resources.
SRWA baseline data is being used to determine the overall health of the watersheds and provide a robust benchmark to assess change. As a result, local units of government have been able to make more informed decisions on resource management, seek effective funding of restoration projects, and are beginning to face future challenges such as potential development of mining in the watersheds and climate change.
SRWA’s second major initiative is its Culvert Restoration Program, which addresses problems of excessive sedimentation and fish passage barriers at road/stream crossings. This program is inventorying the over 1,000 culverts in the watersheds to prioritize sites needing upgrading. Through ecological field assessment, creating partnerships between townships, agencies and volunteers, and securing project grants, SRWA has reconnected nearly 30 miles of trout streams and reduced sediment loads to Lake Superior.
In 2017, SRWA began a partnership with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources – Washburn Ranger District to implement a Tree Planting Program. Over 245,000 seedlings were planted on over 170 acres at two sites.