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Threats to the Waterways

Weeds and Yard Waste Dumping

We are receiving multiple reports regarding homeowners depositing weeds and yard waste into our waterways. Please know this is illegal and unhealthy for our waterways. Here is the ordinance: 8.32.020 Types of nuisances—Authority to abate Section V. Depositing any cut or uprooted water weeds, reeds, brush, grass clippings or any other type of debris into any body of water, including but not limited to lakes, canals, creeks, streams, drainageways, wetlands or any other public place. 

Thanks for doing your part in keeping the waterways healthy and pristine.

Sampling Data Analysis


I reviewed the data you sent me a number of times and have concluded the following:  

 1. One important fact to remember when trying to analyze your data is that these sampling dates are simply a snapshot of what was occurring during any particular sampling event. The Ocean Shores waterways are generally shallow water bodies that are not stratified so changes in basic water chemistry parameters can fluctuate considerably within a 24 hour cycle as a result of surface winds and rain events. All of your data is basically the same as that produced during the Ocean Shores KCM study. No real alarming changes have occurred. The parameters you are monitoring provides your group and the City a basic response to a property owners question as to whether the water quality has changed statistically enough from the past KCM study to the present condition to warrant a concern. After reviewing your past yearly sampling results and comparing those results with the past KCM study, my response would be no. The next question addresses the need to continue sampling in 2017. If the goal of your sampling is to provide real time data to residents addressing water quality issues specifically related to the parameters you are currently sampling, then proceeding in 2017 would be prudent. If your goal is to ensure residents that the water quality has not really changed statistically from the KCM study then your past year of sampling has accomplished that task. If you decide sampling is not to be continued in 2017, the ability to spot sample should remain an option if water quality issues or public concerns surface that may warrant such action, i.e. fish kills. Even the noted high conductivity readings during 2015 were not duplicated during 2016. Your limited parameter spikes that were noted were short lived events that did not carry over into the next sampling date except for the high conductivity readings noted during 2015. Even those results were not duplicated during 2016. 

 2. Dissolved Oxygen – Oyehut (State Route 115) is the only sampling site that consistently produced low dissolved oxygen values. I am not familiar with this site but will visit the site on my next trip to Ocean Shores. Both the Grand Canal North and Bass Canal sites exhibited below average DO levels but these results are not surprising considering the rich organic sediments present and stagnant waters associated with both sites. 

 3. Specific Conductance - These readings typically fluctuate depending on rainfall and all appear to be within a normal range except for sampling events noted in the Blue Heron, Grow Old Passage and Party Pup Passage Canals on 9/2015 & 10/2015. These readings far exceeded the historical established baselines and were elevated above 1,000 uS/cm. Whatever environmental factors were responsible for these spikes, the condition exceeded 30 days. 

 4. pH – pH readings can change drastically over a 24 hour time frame if an algae bloom is occurring or overcast is persistent. Such environmental factors are common occurrences associated with Ocean Shores. Waters experiencing planktonic blooms typically exhibit a higher pH during the sunlight hours. During photosynthesis (sunlight hours), algae produce oxygen by utilizing sunlight and CO2. The removal of CO2 from the water often elevates the pH. During respiration (nighttime hours or overcast), algae consume oxygen and produce CO2. This tends to reduce the water’s pH. Typically daylight hours produce the highest pH readings while readings taken just prior to sunrise produce the lowest pH. Extended overcast also increases the production of CO2 resulting in a lower pH. Lakes susceptible to algae blooms typical experience pH levels above 9.0. Some lakes exceed 10 ppm. All of the pH readings recorded throughout Ocean Shores are within ranges typically noted for waterbodies that experience mild to severe blooms. 

 5. Temperature– No unusual findings. 

 In general, the water quality throughout the Ocean Shores waterways is typical of most man made shallow systems that experience high summer water temperatures and slow water exchange during the mid summer months. The surrounding native wildlife that adds tremendous value to the Ocean Shores experience also has a tendency at times to stress the system. Although the waterways experience algal blooms, these blooms are short lived and have historically proven to be non-toxic events. In addition, all waters within the system are refreshed during the winter rainy season as new fresh water circulates through the system. 

 It is extremely difficult to evaluate the true health of the Ocean Shores water system without additional data. In order to truly evaluate the current water quality, sampling directed at phosphorous levels, chlorophyll levels and secchi disc readings need to be conducted so that current data can be compared with data obtained during the KCM study. Once collected, the current trophic level can be compared with the level established through the KCM study. A lake’s trophic level is an industry standard that evaluates the eutrophication rate of a waterbody. Trophic states are based on lake fertility. Lakes are classified based on the amount of available nutrients (Phosphorus and Nitrogen) for organisms. More fertile lakes have more nutrients and therefore more plants and algae. Seasonal sampling at a number of stations system wide would provide enough data to make the comparison. Laboratory samples could be collected through your current volunteer group and analyzed. Cost of laboratory work would be in the $1,000.00 / $1,500.00 range. 

 NWAE would donate up to $750.00 in a matching fund effort to help assist with the project. 


Noxious Weeds

Brazilian Elodea, Milfoil, Coontail, and various other noxious aquatic weeds can choke waterways. You can help by keeping aquarium plants in aquariums and clean your boat when trailering from one lake to another.


Boat wakes cause bank erosion and fill-in. Wakes over 6 inches are illegal in No Wake Zones. Obey the No Wake ordinance and report violators to the police.

Following erosion, reeds fill in narrowing the waterway over time. Also, clearing natural vegetation down to the waterline speeds erosion of the banks. Property owners are encouraged to leave a buffer of natural vegetation.


The effects of Motorized Watercraft on Ecosystems Timothy R. Asplund, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Bureau of Integrated Science Services and University of Wisconsin, Water Chemistry Program March 17, 2000:


Why is shoreline erosion important in aquatic ecosystems? Shoreline erosion may affect water clarity in near shore areas, shading submerged aquatic plants as well as providing nutrients for algal growth. It can interfere with fish use of shallow water haitat, as well as wildlife use of the land-water edge. Excessive shoreline erosion can negatively affect property values and can be expensive for riparian dwellers to prevent and control.


How might boats affect shoreline erosion? Boats produce a wake, which may in turn create waves that propagate outward until dissipated at the shoreline. Wave height and other wave characteristics vary with speed, type of watercraft, size of engine, hull displacement, and dis tance from shore. Propeller turbulence from boats operating in near shore areas may also erode shorelines by destabilizing the bottom.


What do we know? Waves or wake produced by boats is the primary factor by which boats can influence shoreline erosion. Wave heights depend upon speed, size and draft of boat, but can reach heights of 40-50 cm (15-20 in.) equivalent to storm-induced waves. However, wave heights dissipate rapidly as they move away from the boat, while wind waves increase with larger distances. Therefore, river systems, channels connecting lakes, and small lakes are likely to be most influenced by boat-induced waves, as boats may operate relatively close to shore and wind-induced waves are reduced. Shoreline erosion has been documented in river systems and has been attributed to frequency and proximity of boat traffic. Loosely consolidated, steep, unvegetated banks are more susceptible to shoreline erosion.


What can we do about it? No-wake zones are designed to minimize boat wake, so the obvious solution would be to use no-wake zones to limit shoreline erosion, particularly in channels or small sheltered lakes (i.e. areas where effective wind fetch is less than 1000 feet). Currently in WI, boats are restricted from operating at speeds greater than no-wake within 100 feet from fixed structures such as boat docks and swimming platforms. Many lake communities have established no-wake ordinances at 100 feet from shore or more. Seawalls and riprap have been used extensively in lakes and rivers to prevent shoreline erosion; however, these engineering approaches have little wildlife value and are expensive. Maintaining and restoring natural shorelines would help reduce the impacts of all types of waves on shoreline erosion.


Throwing trash of any kind into the waterways, including grass clippings or other vegetation, is against city ordinance and subject to fine. Trash contaminates our waterways, may damage watercraft, and cause injury to boaters and swimmers.


Lawn chemicals and engine oil among other chemicals are hazardous to the waterways. Keep them away from the water's edge.

These are some of the threats to the waterways. Please be alert to others, and act accordingly. For example ---

Reed Control

Management of reed growth, control, and removal poses a challenge for shoreline homeowners and waterways volunteers. Care must be exercised when reeds are removed to keep erosion and bank sloughing from filling the channels.


Approved bulkhead placement, with appropriate landscaping, may prevent waterway narrowing and erosion which leads to shallow channels.

Floating Debris

Debris such as logs, old dock material, storm damaged tress and limbs, etc., are unforeseen obstacles until they damage a watercraft. Locating, tagging, photographing, and arranging for removal is required.

Low Hanging Branches or Leaning Trees

Tree branches, or trees leaning over the waterways that threaten to damage boats and passengers should be pruned, or removed.