Fishway allows fish to bypass dam, Milwaukee River at Thiensville, Wisconsin

[Music playing] Faith: So Matt, you work for Ozaukee County, and you’ve had a lot of agencies involved with this project. Can you give us some background on how this project
was set up? Matt: Sure. The Thiensville-Mequon fishway, which allows fish to bypass the elevation change here at the Thiensville-Mequon Dam, is one part of a larger Ozaukee County managed project. We received funding in 2009 from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act through the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration of about $4.7 million to increase fish passage throughout the Milwaukee River watersheds, specifically in Ozaukee County. The Thiensville-Mequon Dam is the most downstream barrier in Ozaukee County on the main stem of the Milwaukee River to fish movement. So by building this fishway, again, it allows fish to navigate around the dam and then access high quality habitat areas. In Ozaukee County tributary streams, we know that habitats do exist on these streams. It’s just a matter of allowing fish to access them. We have some folks here from the Milwaukee River Community Service Corp. They are volunteering for us today to kind of tweak various elements of the fishway. What this fishway is is it’s a naturally meandering stream, or it’s engineered to approximate a natural meandering stream channel, and it incorporates a series of pools and riffles. The pools are still flat calm areas that allow fish to kind of recharge their batteries so to speak, conserve their energy, and then expend their energy as they navigate through the faster moving shallower riffle areas. And we’re working on three barriers on the main stem of the Milwaukee River; the Thiensville-Mequon Dam is one of those. We have the Lime Kiln Dam located upstream in the village of Grafton, which we’re currently removing, and then finally we have the Bridge Street Dam also in the village of Grafton. We’ll be building a fishway around the eastside of that dam, and we are tackling several other different barrier remediations. There’s about 35 major road crossings – road and stream crossings where we’re reconfiguring the culvert to approximate the characteristics of the adjacent streams. So in general we’re widening out culverts that exist and burying them deeper so as a fish moves through, it’s again, an approximation of the natural characteristics of the stream. In addition to that there’re about 100 small scale barriers that Milwaukee Community Service Corps, who is volunteering with us today on the fishway, is also tackling. These are barriers that can be removed predominantly by hand labor, stretches on the base of species, log jams, railroad ballast deposits, etc. In total, we’re reconnecting about 158 stream miles allowing access to 119,000 acres of habitat including 14,000 acres of wetland habitat. So to our knowledge it’s one of the most comprehensive large scale barrier removal and habitat accessible projects of its kind. [Music playing]

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