Environmental report for waters of Green Bay

Wisconsin Sea Grant released its environmental report card for the waters of Green Bay. (WLUK/Eric Peterson)
Wisconsin Sea Grant released its environmental report card for the waters of Green Bay. (WLUK/Eric Peterson)

GREEN BAY - It's been more than 20 years since the waters of Green Bay got an official check-up.

The research group Wisconsin Sea Grant released its State of the Bay report Thursday morning, an environmental report card about the health of the bay and the waters that flow into it.

The group spent the last 10 years compiling the report. It indicates an overall improving bay.

Bud Harris says he and his team considered 19 different environmental categories before coming up with a grade.

"I did that and came up with a C-," said Bud Harris, UW-Green Bay.

Harris, his wife Vicky Harris, and others at Wisconsin Sea Grant say areas of concern include, the ongoing PCB Fox River cleanup project, contaminants from chemicals like phosphorus, loss of natural habitat, and aquatic invasive species.

"Once you've introduced zebra mussels or quagga mussels or asian carp, or sea lamprey to the system, and you can't remove them, or it's very difficult to do so, you've altered that system forever," said Vicky Harris, Wisconsin Sea Grant.

Researchers say they are optimistic about an experimental program called adaptive management.

"Target the places that have the most, where we know it's coming from, you can measure it at the field scale, you can measure it at the stream scale, you measure it at the mouth of the river scale, you measure it at the bay scale, and that's when you can answer the question, is it effective," said Harris.

Researchers say clean up efforts mean certain fish are no longer as contaminated and may be kept and eaten from the Fox River in Green Bay.

"The remediation of the river is certainly helping, but there is that process of that discharges are declining also from the point source," said Gary Kincaid, DNR Wastewater Engineer.

Bud Harris says change needs to come socially, economically and politically.

"If there is no political will to make these changes to really had a hold of the problem, I can tell you, it won't happen," said Harris.

Researchers say work will continue.

A program to test conditions near Duck Creek in Brown County is scheduled to begin in the spring.