Bluff Creek Overpass Workday

On November 11, 2006, a crew of dedicated SEWTU volunteers worked at the point where Highway P passes over Bluff Creek, just outside of Whitewater, Wisconsin.   Bluff Creek, the subject of a large SEWTU-involved restoration project, is relative anomaly.  Located in an area which is hardly known for possessing abundant cold water systems, Bluff Creek is nevertheless a spring fed stream with multiple spring heads located in a terminal moraine.  These spring heads serve as a consistent cold water source, and Bluff Creek maintains steady, cold temperatures year round.


At some point in the past, a man made obstruction/debris pile was placed downstream of the Highway P overpass at Bluff Creek.  Over time, the obstruction -- which consisted of large rocks and boulders, woody debris, and a downed telephone pole (your guess is as good as ours!) -- caused streamflow in the immediate upstream portions of the creek to slow.  As a result, a large dose of sedimentation occurred, the river rose, lost its meander, and widened.


SEWTU volunteers worked in coordination with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, and cut up and removed the offending debris pile/stream obstruction.  This work included sawing and removing via rope the downed telephone pole, and using prybars and other manual hand tools to destroy and remove the offending rocks and boulders.


The effect of SEWTU and the WDNR's work was immediate, with water velocity increasing, and water levels upstream immediately dropping between 6 and 8 inches.  Water coming from the previously impeded area was cloudy as it flowed into the restored area -- indicating that sediment was already being scoured and transported due to increased flow.  It will be interesting to witness the upstream portion of Bluff Creek healing itself over the coming months.  Stop out and witness the progress!


The day was a complete success in that SEWTU mobilized a number of dedicated volunteers, despite inclimate weather, and provided stream work at one of our home waters.