Friends of Starkweather Creek

Trickle Newsletter August/September: 2016

Welcome to the August 2016 edition of our Friends of Starkweather Creek Newsletter.  We have had a great summer on the creek with amazingly clear water and lots of happenings.  In this newsletter you will learn more about a proposed treatment system located on the east branch of Starkweather Creek and some water quality sampling that we are working on with FreshWater Engineering and the City of Madison.

We hope you will take some time this fall to visit the creek. We have a nature walk on September 17th with Madison FUN (Friends of Urban Nature) and a canoe tour on October 15th.  Finally, mark your calendars for our Annual Meeting on October 27th.  We will be at the Goodman Center this year in the teen room.  We are looking forward to electing new board members and sharing information about our year on the creek.  

 Don't forget to post pictures of your creek adventures on our facebook page!  Hope to see you out there.


Atwood Fest!

by Lance Green

Once again we had a good showing at the Atwood Fest, maybe our best ever! There were lively conversations about folks' history with the creek, our organization, activities and creek issues. We handed out information about the proposed treatment system for the Voit property off of Milwaukee Street. Some visitors fished out "Wild Cards" about invasive species from a can. We got a lot of praise for our work helping the creek!  Our new canopy tent included a new laminated banner with our new QR codes and some folks used their smart phones to reach our website and Facebook pages (thanks, Dane!!). 

Sign-ups: 39 folks signed up with their names and e-mails. 

Donations: The donation can took in $68!!!  .

Volunteers:  Great help this year! On Saturday, Dane, Doug, Carl and Becky Weurich helped, and Dea, Doug, and Julie Melton staffed the booth on Sunday. Lance filled in and Konnie Farrel helped with set-up and take down. Becky and Julie were both associated with FSC in the early days.

Testing the Waters of the Creek

by Laura Rozumalski

FreshWater Engineering received a grant from City of Madison Engineering and is working with the Friends of Starkweather Creek to sample and analyze the current water quality conditions in Starkweather Creek.  The results of the study will be compared to the results of a 2005 study performed by the UW-Madison Water Resources Management Practicum.  The 2005 samples had found toxicity levels of concern near the airport and the golf course. Semipermeable membrane devices (SPMDs) are being used for the sampling efforts. The monitoring devices were placed at 8 locations throughout the watershed from May 16 to June 14, 2016.  These testing devices mimic fish tissue by accumulating hydrophobic organic compounds from the water column, which is a more specific sampling method than what is typically done for water quality tests.  

Typical water quality monitoring includes parameters such as temperature, pH, specific conductivity, turbidity, dissolved oxygen, nitrates, and e. coli.  This information is very useful, but does not provide data about harmful chemical toxins that may be affecting the biota in the waterbody.  For this study, FreshWater Engineering is nvestigating which chemicals are present that bioaccumulate in the food chain and affect the ecosystem.  Specifically, the organic contaminants in question are those that accumulate in an organism’s tissue and result in chronic problems such as reproductive disorders, muscular and neurological abnormalities, immune deficiencies, and genetic defects. Final results should be available in September.  For more information, you can contact Friends of Starkweather Creek at or Laura Rozumalski, P.E., President, FreshWater Engineering

Update on Proposed Treatment System for Starkweather Creek

by Dea Larsen Converse

On July 21st, the City of Madison Engineering presented information on a proposed treatment system for Starkweather Creek.  The public meeting was held at Olbrich Gardens during a huge rainstorm.  There were about 25 people in attendance.  Here is a link to the presentation by the city

The site of the treatment pond would become city property and would be managed as a conservation park.  Birdwatching, perhaps a bike path off of Milwaukee Street, hiking, and other activities would be available to the community.  The site also contains a wetland that would be restored as part of the site redevelopment. 

This is a project that the Friends of Starkweather Creek have been following for a while and has been part of the Starkweather Creek Master Plan since 2004.  The master plan calls for connecting OB Sherry with the Voit Farm via bike and pedestrian paths, possible location of a detention pond, a wetland restoration, and green space.  If the property is acquired by the City of Madison for the treatment facility, those additional values could be realized. We encourage you to attend the public meetings and learn more for yourself.  We will continue to provide updates as the process continues.

Friends of
Starkweather Creek

2016 Calendar of Events



11th:  Tree Walk led by certified arborist Sean Gere 
15th:  Goodman Day Camp - Watershed Wanderers - begin 8 weeks of activities with a canoe/kayak tour of the creek. 
21st:  Board Meeting, 7-8 pm, Goodman Center
28th:  Earth Partnership for Schools - as part of a week-long workshop the group tours Starkweather Creek by canoe and learns about stormwater, rain gardens, and invertebrates. 


19th:  Board Meeting, 7-8 pm, Goodman Center
15th:   Goodman kids help with our monthly monitoring on the West Branch
21st:  Public information meeting on treatment system for Starkweather Creek, 6 pm, Olbrich Gardens

30-31:  Atwood Fest tabling 



23rd:  Board Meeting, 7-8 pm, Goodman Center


CONTACT US at if you want to volunteer to help at our listed events or if you’d like to lead a bike/hike/canoe tour. 


17th: Join us for a free, family-friendly nature walk along Starkweather Creek with naturalist Tom Murn.  10-11:30 am.  Meet at the Goodman Community Center at 149 Waubesa Street.  For more information, contact Deborah at

20th:  Board Meeting, 7:30-8:30 pm, Madison Metropolitan Sewerage District


15th: Canoe Tour.  Meet at the Olbrich Boat launch nearest the Thai Pavillion at 9 am.
18th:  Board Meeting, 7-8 pm, Goodman Center 
27th:  Annual Meeting, 7-8:30 pm, Goodman Center, Teen Center


15th: Off road bike tour led by Dave Pulkowski


21st:  Winter Solstice Celebration at Olbrich Gardens.  Meet at the baseball diamond near the lake for a parade and BONFIRE.

Rake Your Leaves 

By Dea Larsen Converse

Fall is approaching and along with the beautiful fall colors, we have leaves that fall into the streets and bring phosphorus enriched runoff into our creek.  It is a little known fact that most city streets contain storm drains that lead directly into the nearest water body.  The water is NOT treated.  The storm drains function to remove rainwater quickly to prevent flooding.  They work very well for this purpose.  However, the rainwater also takes with it grease, leaves, trash, salt, and sediment into the nearest water body.  Of particular interest here are the leaves.  According to preliminary results of a study by the United States Geological Survey, leaves left on the streets during rainstorms account for 60-70% of the phosphorus pollution entering the creek in the fall.  Another 30-40% enters in the spring from pollen, which also falls from trees.  If it were possible to get every leaf and pollen particle off the street before it rains, our lakes, streams and beaches would benefit.

What can you do?

The Friends of Starkweather Creek are interested in promoting ways to make the creek cleaner by reducing phosphorus at the source, like keeping leaves/pollen out of stormsewers.  The Friends of Starkweather Creek encourage you to consider composting your leaves in your yard instead of raking them to the terrace for pick up. This would minimize the chance that they are blown into the street and contribute to phosphorus to our waterways.

We also encourage you to install rain gardens and rain barrels so that rainwater stays on your property instead of running quickly to the nearest storm sewer.  This will allow the rainwater to soak through the ground slowly – a more natural and very effective way to keep pollution from the waterways.  And encourage your neighbors to do the same. Here are some resource links for more detail on how you can help:
Rain Gardens Homeowners Manual:
Rain Barrel information:
Leaf Management Tips:
Join the Friends of Starkweather Creek, or renew your membership:
Join the Friends of Starkweather Creek facebook page and to keep up with happenings on the creek:

Thank you for your support

We’d like to take this opportunity to thank you for supporting our work to revitalize Starkweather Creek by participating in our canoe tours and creek cleanups, by lending your expertise, and, especially, with your membership.  If you have not yet had a chance, please take a moment now at to renew your membership and consider making a donation to help us continue our work. 
Please make checks out to Friends of Starkweather Creek and mail to Friends of Starkweather Creek, Post Office Box 8442, Madison, WI 53708-8442 or contribute via our webpage at
Copyright © 2016 Friends of Starkweather Creek, All rights reserved.

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