Bad River Watershed Association

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Water Quality Monitoring Program

The overall objective of the BRWA Water Quality Monitoring Program is to establish at least a four-year baseline of water quality in the Bad River Watershed.  The baseline data will be used to determine the overall health of the watershed and troubled spots will be investigated.  The Bad River Watershed Association and other data users can then make more informed decisions on supporting proposals concerning land use, conservation efforts and other projects to preserve the vital habitat and water quality of the watershed.  Continual monitoring should then be able to detect changes to water quality in the future.

There are two main sub-objectives to the Bad River Watershed Monitoring Plan.

Objective 1 – to collect baseline data on several points of the major tributaries of the Bad River Watershed.  Data to be collected consists of basic water chemistry (temperature, pH, dissolved oxygen, chloride and turbidity), biological assessment using macroinvertebrates, and physical characteristics.

Objective 2 – to get local citizens involved with their watershed by monitoring water quality.

The plan is built to meet these objectives and to extend the sampling being carried out by the Bad River Natural Resources Department (BRNRD).  That sampling plan involves 24 points on the exterior boundary of the Reservation and downstream to the mouth. The major subwatersheds are sampled at several possible locations on the major tributary – headwaters, mid-length and near its mouth.  This plan enables the capture of minimal water quality data.  As the program expands and volunteers are added, more sites are added.  The sampling sites have been chosen according to the information the site can give about the watershed (headwaters, below confluences, upstream/downstream of possible sites of impact) and the possibility of safe convenient access for the volunteers.

An important example of our water quality data in use occurred in October 2006, when the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) approved the designation of 44 northern stream segments as Exceptional Resource Waters (ERW) or Outstanding Resource Waters (ORW).  Originally, streams in the Bad River watershed were not considered for these designations due to lack of information.  Our macroinvertebrate sample data was submitted to WDNR to demonstrate that many of the waters we sample deserve this special designation.  As a result, several rivers in the watershed were added to the ORW/ERW list.  For more information on ORW/ERW waters in the Bad River Watershed, CLICK HERE.

Anyone interested in becoming a volunteer water quality monitor is encouraged to contact Mariana Brewster, Volunteer Coordinator, at 715-682-2003 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .



The Bad River Watershed Association’s (BRWA) Data-sharing Policy is designed to make data from the BRWA database as freely available as possible for academic, research, education, and other professional purposes. Our goal is to promote the use of the best available information to make informed decisions.  In this spirit, BRWA has developed a formal request procedure to allow our data to be shared in a way that is fair and appropriate.


FileDescriptionFile size
Download this file (data sharing policy FINAL 3.14.13.pdf)Data Sharing Policy Document 307 Kb

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BRWAs Priorities Poll

Please rank the questions below based on how you believe BRWA should prioritize emerging water quality issues in the region. (5 being the highest, 1 being the lowest - use the "+" selector to vote. 5 votes for highest rank, 4 votes for second highest, etc.)

Establish baseline water quality conditions
Outreach and education
Restore problem erosional areas
Work with local authorities to address water quality issues
Protective waterway designations
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Threats To Water Poll

Please rank the questions below based on what you believe is the greater threat to water quality in the region. (5 being the highest, 1 being the lowest - use the "+" selector to vote. 5 votes for highest rank, 4 votes for second highest, etc.)

Large-scale agriculture
Failing septic/waste treatment systems
Stream sedimentation, washouts and erosion
Forest management practices
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