Over the past thirty years, chloride concentrations have increased in Starkweather Creek, an urbanized stream draining to Lake Monona. In 2016, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources listed both the East and West branches as impaired by chloride.

East Branch of Starkweather Creek at Milwaukee St. Photo: Sarah Fuller

In February 2020, the Capital Area Regional Planning Commission was awarded a DNR River Planning Grant to develop a Chloride Management Plan for the Starkweather Creek watershed. This project seeks to comprehensively address chloride use, both in winter deicing and in water softening. Throughout 2020, we are gathering chloride use data, monitoring chloride concentrations in surface water, and developing project goals and objectives. By the end of the year, we anticipate having a Chloride Management Plan that will help improve salt use tracking and promote the use of Salt Wise practices.

The Steering Committee, representing a variety of stakeholders within the watershed, will help in developing, supporting, and implementing this work. Lance Green, Co-Chair of the Friends of Starkweather Creek, is excited to be involved, saying that “this project is an important step in addressing our concerns regarding increasing chloride concentrations in Starkweather Creek and our drinking water.”

In addition to the Friends of Starkweather Creek, Wisconsin Salt Wise, City of Madison, Madison Metropolitan Sewerage District, Public Health Madison and Dane County, The Bruce Company, Madison College, American Family Insurance, and DNR are also represented on the Steering Committee.

Learn more about how salt impacts our water resources here.

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