Milwaukee River Basin
The rivers, lakes, groundwater and lands in the Milwaukee River basin sustain a wide range of plant and animal life. From the seemingly untouched areas within the Northern Unit of the Kettle Moraine State Forest to the areas near cities challenged by pollution and habitat modification, one thing remains constant: our land and water resources are forever linked.
Our activities on the land have an effect not just at the point of origin, but ripple throughout the basin. The quality of our rivers, lakes and groundwater also has influence over what we do on the land.
Today we are challenged with finding ways to balance our use of land and water with our desire to protect, restore and enhance the natural resources in the Milwaukee River basin. Building and maintaining strong partnerships with shared visions and goals are essential to striking this balance.
The Milwaukee River basin is located in portions of seven counties, contains (entirely or portions of) 13 cities, 32 towns, 24 villages and is home to about 1.3 million people. The southern quarter of the basin is the most densely populated area in the state, holding 90 percent of the basin’s population.
The basin is divided into six watersheds. Three of the watersheds (Milwaukee River North, Milwaukee River East-West and Milwaukee River South) contain the Milwaukee River from start to finish and collectively occupy two-thirds of the basin area (584 square miles). The other three watersheds (Cedar Creek, Menomonee River and Kinnickinnic River) are named after the major rivers they contain.
Collectively the six watersheds contain about 500 miles of perennial streams, over 400 miles of intermittent streams, 35 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline, 57 named lakes and many small lakes and ponds. Wetlands encompass over 68,000 acres or 12% of the basin land area.
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|
|Cedar Creek||129.26 mi 2||MI04 water lists||Ozaukee, Washington||Milwaukee River||Lake Michigan|
|East and West branches Milwaukee River||266 mi 2||MI06 water lists||Dodge, Fond du Lac, Ozaukee, Sheboygan, Washington||Milwaukee River||Lake Michigan|
|Kinnickinnic River||33.35 mi 2||MI01 water lists||Milwaukee||Milwaukee River||Lake Michigan|
|Menomonee River||136.12 mi 2||MI03 water lists||Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Washington, Waukesha||Milwaukee River||Lake Michigan|
|Milwaukee River South||167.9 mi 2||MI02 water lists||Milwaukee, Ozaukee||Milwaukee River||Lake Michigan|
|North branch Milwaukee River||149.67 mi 2||MI05 water lists||Fond du Lac, Ozaukee, Sheboygan, Washington||Milwaukee River||Lake Michigan|