The Lower Fox River basin is located in northeastern Wisconsin and encompasses the following counties: Brown, Calumet, Outagamie and Winnebago. The 638 square mile (1,654 square kilometers) drainage basin is bordered by the Twin Door Kewaunee basin to the north and east, the Manitowoc River basin to the south and east, the Upper Fox River basin to the south, the Wolf River basin to the west and the Upper Green Bay basin to the north.
The Lower Fox River empties a drainage basin of 6,349 square miles (including drainage from the Wolf River and Upper Fox River basins), flowing northeast from the outlet of Lake Winnebago to the bay of Green Bay. The Fox River Valley is one of Wisconsin's most urbanized and industrialized areas. Most of these urban areas are close to the river and localized urban and industrial runoff has contributed to water quality problems.
Urban nonpoint sources include runoff from existing urban areas including established commercial, industrial, freeways and residential land uses. The basin also contains many rich farmlands, which also contributes to the water quality problems in the area. Nonpoint sources include runoff from barnyards, areas widespread with livestock manure, eroding agricultural lands and streambank erosion, cattle accessing the streams and other poor land-use practices.
Water quality studies reveal that most of the Lower Fox River basin streams and lower Green Bay suffer from excessive loadings of sediment, nutrients, bacteria and heavy metals resulting in degraded aquatic habitat and an unbalanced fish community with low populations and limited diversity; sedimentation and excessive nutrient levels resulting in an advanced state of eutrophication; and high levels of toxic materials in bottom sediments and invertebrate organisms consumed by fish.
The Lower Fox River basin has been given statewide attention for improving and protecting water quality. Three watersheds: the East River, the Apple and Ashwaubenon Creeks and Duck Creek, have been selected as priority watersheds under the Wisconsin Nonpoint Source Water Pollution Abatement Program. The three remaining watersheds have been ranked "high" for possible selection, Plum Creek, Fox River/Appleton and Little Lake Butte Des Mort watersheds. The main focus of these projects is to reduce nutrient and sediment loadings to streams and rivers by 50% which is necessary for meaningful water quality improvements to occur.
Water resource information for specific watersheds
|Watershed name/view details||Watershed size||Lists (streams, lakes, bays & harbors)||Counties||Water management unit (WMU)||Major drainage system|
|Apple and Ashwaubenon Creeks||113.34 mi 2||LF02 Water lists||Outagamie, Brown||Lower Fox||Lake Michigan|
|Duck Creek||151.61 mi 2||LF05 Water lists||Outagamie, Brown||Lower Fox||Lake Michigan|
|East River||206.32 mi 2||LF01 Water lists||Manitowoc, Brown, Calumet||Lower Fox||Lake Michigan|
|Fox River - Appleton||39.37 mi 2||LF04 Water lists||Outagamie, Winnebago||Lower Fox||Lake Michigan|
|Little Lake Butte des Morts||43.77 mi 2||LF06 Water lists||Winnebago, Calumet||Lower Fox||Lake Michigan|
|Plum and Kankapot Creeks||84.04 mi 2||LF03 Water lists||Outagamie, Brown, Winnebago, Calumet||Lower Fox||Lake Michigan|