A Department of Natural Resources aquatic survey of the East Twin River in Kewaunee County shows the waterway worsening in some respects and getting marginally better in others.
A DNR representative told the county Land & Water Conservation Committee on Tuesday that levels of phosphorus and water temperatures are up along the river, trout counts are down, and the aquatic habitat is suffering, although some aspects are showing some improvement.
“Generally, overall, I don’t think any of us were surprised by the findings,” committee chairman Supervisor Chuck Wagner said after the meeting. “But we are disappointed, at least with regard to the amount of phosphorus in the water.”
The Legislature authorized the study of the East Twin and other area rivers over concerns that the once-popular trout stream no longer appears to be viable for many fish species. The survey indicated water temperatures in the mid and upper 70s, while temperatures below 70 are considered more conducive for cold-water fish.
Critics of the DNR have focused on discharges from an Agropur cheese plant south of Luxemburg. Wagner said not all of the blame for the river’s condition can be placed on the factory.
“No one appreciates a good trout stream more than me,” Wagner said. “I like pristine waters as much as anyone, but I also like economic development and thriving families and thriving businesses.”
Local officials experience a level of frustration who are constantly being asked by constituents why it sometimes appears that state agencies aren’t doing the jobs they’re responsible for doing, Wagner admitted.
“We expect the DNR to protect and improve the waters of the state – surface waters, groundwater,” he said.
This was the first committee meeting since the April election. The panel elected Gary Paape as its vice chairman, and Lee Luft will again serve as secretary. The other members are newly elected Supervisor Aaron Augustian and local USDA Farm Service Agency representative Clark Reimer.