SOMERS — A portion of the Pike River winding through Petrifying Springs Park is on the mend as part of a project to improve water quality involving University of Wisconsin-Parkside students and faculty.
The Pike River watershed flows through Racine and Kenosha counties in an area covering more than 30,000 acres before it empties into Lake Michigan. Pollution in the river and sediment, along with stream channelization from agricultural practices over the years, led to water quality problems.
A 2012 assessment by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources ranked the river’s biological community as poor, and relatively few fish species were observed. Additionally, phosphorous and nitrogen concentrations were high, another indication of low water quality.
As part of the Pike River Restoration Plan completed in 2013, the Petrifying Springs Park section of the river was identified for rehabilitation, including “restoring streambanks … removing problematic debris jams; and selectively removing invasive trees.”
Parkside students collaborated with Kenosha County, including Jim Kreuser, Kenosha County executive and UW-Parkside alum (’83, ’86), to conduct water sampling that has aided water quality monitoring by the county and DNR.
That work shows more than 525 tons of sediment and 368 pounds of phosphorous have been removed and sections of the stream have been stabilized. The UW-Parkside has monitored positive changes in the Pike River, with short-term data showing a 55% reduction in phosphorus and 44% reduction in nitrogen..
The project was funded through the EPA’s Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Award (2017), the Fund for Lake Michigan (2017) and an in-kind match from Kenosha County.
For more information, visit epa.gov/sites/production/files/2020-12/documents/wi_pikeriver_1942_508.pdf, and for ways to get involved, visit the Root-Pike Watershed Network website at rootpikewin.org.