This is the
Root River

Meandering some 43 miles through Southeastern Wisconsin, the Root River is one of Lake Michigan’s major tributaries.

We invite you to learn more about the Root, and how the Great Water Alliance will provide benefits to this important river.

More About the Root

Returning Great Water
to Lake Michigan, naturally

We could have built a new pipeline to send the water borrowed by Waukesha back to Lake Michigan. But Mother Nature already had a wiser alternative ready and waiting: the Root River.

See what’s being done so that the return flow is cleaner than the river it’s joining, and why the City of Waukesha’s Clean Water Plant is one of the most advanced wastewater treatment facilities in Wisconsin.

Clean Water

Helping to solve
a decades-old problem

Since 1966, the base flow of the Root River has been too low to support water quality, recreation, and fishery goals in the watershed. Remedies explored over the years by the DNR and Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission have all proved too costly.

By using the river to return clean, treated water to Lake Michigan, the Great Water Alliance effectively solves the problem of low base flow in the dry summer and fall months. And, while the 8 million or so gallons a day that enter the system will help raise levels by as much as 6.5 inches during low-flow conditions, studies confirm that this same amount will be virtually undetectable during high-flow events.

Fish are about to catch
a break on the Root River

Wisconsin is an angler’s paradise. And the Root River is known across the Midwest as a prime spot for trout and salmon fishing. A big part of the reason is the work done at the DNR’s Root River Steelhead Facility.

This important fishery captures salmon and trout as they move upstream at spawning time, then harvests and fertilizes eggs in order to help support the population both in the river and the lake.

By raising the level of the Root River in the critical late summer and early fall months when depths are typically low, the volume of water contributed by the Great Water Alliance return flow can allow more fish to reach the facility.

The result will be healthier fish populations… and happier anglers.

Root River Steelhead Facility

Learn the facts. Get the answers.

We’d like to address some of the common questions and misperceptions that have arisen since Lake Michigan was identified as the only sustainable long-term water supply for Waukesha.

Myth vs. Fact
FAQs