The Basics

The Basics River Image

The Manitowoc and Sheboygan River Basins consist primarily of waters that drain to the Manitowoc and Sheboygan Rivers before flowing into Lake Michigan.  However, there are several other smaller tributaries within the basin that contribute surface waters to the lake.

Water Quality

"Water quality" is a complex and dynamic term that is influenced by a wide range of factors. However, it is important to recognize that water health is influenced by different types of pollution from various sources.

We all impact the health of our streams, rivers, and lakes;

therefore, we must all recognize our role in restoring our most valuable resources. 


Point-Source Pollution  

As its name implies, point-source pollution can be easily identified (i.e., a pipe from industrial plant or waste-water treatment plant). As a result, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been able to enforce regulations that have largely reduced the impact of point-source pollution.

Non-Point Pollution 

Unlike traditional point-sources of pollution, where you can easily detect the source, non-point pollution comes from all forms of land use. Some examples include:

  • Forestry: The over-harvesting of trees can reduce the soil structure of a wooded area and increase the likelihood of soil erosion. Soil erosion leads to increased levels of sediment runoff.
  • Urban: Pollutants generated from cars (i.e., oil and gasoline leaks), road salts, litter, and pet waste are some examples of urban non-point sources of pollution.
  • Suburban: Lawn care products, including fertilizers and pesticides, are common sources of suburban non-point sources of pollution
  • Agriculture (Cropland and Animal Feedlots): Fertilizers, pesticides, animal manure, and soil erosion are all examples of agriculture non-point sources of pollution.

The Basics River Graphic

Graphic by Lower Fox Demo Farms

When there is a snowmelt or rain event, the water travels through and across the land picking up and carrying away natural, as well as man-made pollutants. These pollutants are then deposited into lakes, rivers, wetlands, coastal waters, and groundwater.