Friends of Starkweather Creek

Trickle Newsletter August: 2015

Friends of Starkweather Creek Page
Friends of Starkweather Creek Page
Friends of Starkweather Creek (FSC) was started in February 2002 by a group of concerned citizens who wanted to promote the rejuvenation of Starkweather Creek.  Over the years, FSC has organized creek clean-ups and celebrations to raise awareness and pride in the creek.  We also actively advocate for responsible development in the watershed and for commitments from city government to improve the creek. 

As you think about summer plans, consider visiting your local Starkweather Creek for a paddle or “like” our Facebook page to keep up with FSC happenings.


August Happenings 


Watershed Wanders and Wonders Update

FSC was featured in the most recent Isthmus!  Here’s a link to the article.
The article details a trip taken through the Goodman Center’s Summer Camp. Thank you again to Deborah Crabtree of Goodman CC and Dave Pulkowski of Friends of Starkweather Creek for catalyzing this… plus volunteers Paul Noeldner, Chris Wood, Dominic Desano, Sean Gere, Shaheen Sutterwala, and Chris of Mad City Paddlers.  And thank you to writer Allison Geyer for capturing the essence of the journey up the creek (with a paddle).


Check out our new and improved website! Read back issues of the newsletter, see pictures of the creek, and take a look at the membership tab and join our group!

Canoe Tour

It's just around the corner! Bring your canoe, kayak or paddleboard to the creek on at 10AM on Saturday, August 22 for a tour with board members.  Meet at the boat landing east of the creek and north of Atwood Avenue by Olbrich Park’s Thai Pavillion.  The rain date will be Saturday, August 29.  We’ll have updates on our facebook page. If you don’t have a watercraft, email us at and we’ll see if we can help you find room in a boat.

Fish Kill

FSC was alerted via a facebook post about a large fish kill on the creek on August 10, 2015.  Many fish were seen floating near the Olbrich Park boat launch.  Several folks have contacted the DNR and we are awaiting answers.  Check out our facebook page for pictures posted by Jason Waller.

Milky Discharge

FSC Board members and concerned canoeists have continued to report the continuous discharge of a milky substance from a ditch coming from the Voit property into the East Branch of Starkweather Creek.  During our quarterly meeting with the city we were told to follow-up with the DNR. 

Next Month:  An update on volunteer monitoring on the creek.  



Pinkish discharge into the creek

Pink fluids flowing into the electric wetland just off the bike path between the two Kipp buildings. (Picture from SASY Facebook page taken by Kate Hewson on August 9) 

FSC Summer Happenings

Paddle the Creek

Upstream from Olbrich Gardens, turn left at the confluence and the West Branch will take you through woods, under many bridges, and you will  enjoy a surprisingly quiet paddle full of local wildlife. During our clean-up event on May 2 we saw a huge number of turtles and fish. Check out pictures on our Facebook page.


FSC members monitor the quality of the water and surrounding environment of Starkweather Creek as part of a larger effort sponsored by Rock River Coalition.  We are always interested in help on this project. Training is in the spring. Contact us at and we'll get you more information.

June 21: Summer Solstice 

FSC provided canoes for people to use for a short paddle on the creek and had an information booth including hands-on activities showing how we monitor creek health. FSC is proud to be a sponsor of the bonfire and festivities at this iconic Eastside event held at Olbrich Park.

July 25-26: Atwood Fest

Learn more about Starkweather Creek at our table.  In the meantime, join our Facebook page to keep updated on our events. 

August 22: Creek Tour

Bring your canoe or kayak and join us on a tour of the creek.  FSC board members will be there to point out the sights.  Check out our facebook page for the date. For more information, email us at 

October 15: Annual Meeting

Attend this event at Olbrich Gardens and learn more about us! We’ll provide snacks and an entertaining program.  Mark your calendar now!

Madison Kipp Discharge

Alert creek watchers noticed a pinkish discharge recently that could be attributed to Madison-Kipp's Groundwater Extraction and Treatment System, which began in July.  The system pumps up water from below their parking lot and discharges the “cleaned” water through city storm sewers into the creek. The system is treating water contaminated by PCE that Kipp released years ago.  The sewer line they began using is now closed off and is being replaced (along with the bike path between Marquette St and Fair Oaks Ave), so Kipp re-routed the discharge to flow into the small wetland behind the Kipp operations. This wetland then spills over into Starkweather Creek.

Lance Green, FSC Co-Chair, followed up on the pinkish discharge reports with DNR and the City.   He has encouraged the posting of required monitoring on the SASY listserve.  Here is what Madison Kipp environmental staffer has to say:
“Madison-Kipp began operating our recently installed Groundwater Extraction and Treatment System (GETS) full time in July. The system is operating properly and is currently effectively treating the water for PCE.  The city has started repairing the storm water line beneath the bike path between Marquette Street and Fair Oaks. This storm water line carries our treated groundwater, and the repair work has necessitated re-routing the water during the construction. The city has chosen to re-route this water across the path owned by Madison Kipp.  The magenta color you noticed was from potassium permanganate that was injected into the water over the last couple years to treat it for PCE. Some of the potassium permanganate remains in the water, giving it a pink hue.  Although the potassium permanganate is not harmful, we are neutralizing the color as not to discharge pink water to the storm water system. Unfortunately, our neutralization system was not operating correctly on Sunday morning. This issue was corrected within a few hours and we are addressing this problem so it cannot occur again.  The air stripper that treats the water for PCE was operating as designed all weekend. (Unlike the color neutralization system, which will be temporary in nature, the air stripper system has automatic shutoffs if it detects a fault with equipment).  We have notified the WDNR of our issue. We regret this incident caused concern among our neighbors.”
We are hoping that Kipp will give us the test results to show that the water is safe for the creek. Stay tuned...

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