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Water planning in Wisconsin

Lower Wisconsin river basinLower Wisconsin River

Contact information
Lisa Helmuth
Water Quality Bureau

Lower Wisconsin River basin

Description

About the basin

The Lower Wisconsin River basin drains approximately 4,940 square miles of south central and southwestern Wisconsin. The basin includes the Wisconsin River from the Castle Rock Flowage dam to its confluence with the Mississippi River near Prairie du Chien and all the streams tributary to the Wisconsin along this reach, spanning all or parts of 12 counties: Adams, Columbia, Crawford, Dane, Grant, Iowa, Jackson, Juneau, Monroe, Richland, Sauk and Vernon. Water quality in the basin is generally considered good. The primary water quality problems are caused by nonpoint sources of pollution, particularly from agricultural operations, excessive populations of rough fish and hydrologic modifications such as dams, stream straightening and the ditching, draining or other alteration of wetlands.

Basin streams

The basin has more than 3,800 miles of streams including the Lemonweir, Baraboo, Pine and Kickapoo Rivers. Approximately 870 miles of streams in the basin are considered a coldwater sport fishery, or trout waters. Another 856 miles are warmwater sport fishery waters while 115 miles are valuable forage fishery streams. DNR lacks existing use classification information for more than 2,104 of the total stream miles in the Lower Wisconsin River basin. Most of these unknown stream miles are very small unnamed tributaries, or the headwaters reaches of named streams above areas where the DNR does have information. The existing information for many of the streams is old or sketchy and additional monitoring is needed to update the surface water database.

There are presently 41.4 miles of outstanding resource waters (ORW) and 145.5 miles of exceptional resource waters (ERW) in the basin. An additional 14.5 miles are proposed for ORW designation and 237 miles are proposed for ERW designation in the basin. These streams are identified in the watershed tables for individual watersheds.

Basin lakes

The Lower Wisconsin River basin has few lakes. In northeastern Monroe, southeast Jackson and Juneau counties -- an area that comprised glacial Lake Wisconsin - most of the "lakes" are flowages created either to support cranberry culture or in an attempt to drain land for farming earlier in this century. Most of these impoundments are shallow and have little fishery value. Many do have important wildlife values. We have little water quality data on these flowages and their impacts on downstream water quality and fisheries habitat.

Watersheds, waters

Water resource information for specific watersheds

Watershed name/view details Watershed size Lists (Streams, lakes, bays & harbors) Counties Water management unit (WMU) Major drainage system
Bear Creek 136.54 mi 2 LW14 Water lists Iowa, Richland, Sauk Lower Wisconsin Mississippi River
Beaver Creek - Juneau 282.77 mi 2 LW28 Water lists Jackson, Juneau, Monroe, Wood Lower Wisconsin Mississippi River
Black Earth Creek 105.2 mi 2 LW17 Water lists Dane, Iowa Lower Wisconsin Mississippi River
Blue River 216.19 mi 2 LW09 Water lists Grant, Iowa, Richland Lower Wisconsin Mississippi River
Crossman Creek and Little Baraboo River 213.8 mi 2 LW23 Water lists Juneau, Richland, Sauk, Vernon Lower Wisconsin Mississippi River
Dell Creek 133.73 mi 2 LW26 Water lists Adams, Columbia, Juneau, Sauk Lower Wisconsin Mississippi River
Duck Creek and Rocky Run 140.89 mi 2 LW20 Water lists Columbia Lower Wisconsin Mississippi River
Duck and Plainville Creeks 195.09 mi 2 LW25 Water lists Adams, Columbia, Juneau, Sauk Lower Wisconsin Mississippi River
Green River and Crooked Creek 125.71 mi 2 LW07 Water lists Crawford, Grant, Richland Lower Wisconsin Mississippi River
Honey Creek 217.78 mi 2 LW16 Water lists Columbia, Dane, Iowa, Sauk Lower Wisconsin Mississippi River
Knapp Creek 158.64 mi 2 LW08 Water lists Crawford, Grant, Richland, Vernon Lower Wisconsin Mississippi River
Lake Wisconsin 214.96 mi 2 LW19 Water lists Columbia, Dane, Sauk Lower Wisconsin Mississippi River
Little Lemonweir River 218.01 mi 2 LW29 Water lists Juneau, Monroe Lower Wisconsin Mississippi River
Lower Baraboo River 150.54 mi 2 LW21 Water lists Adams, Columbia, Sauk Lower Wisconsin Mississippi River
Lower Kickapoo River 150.21 mi 2 LW02 Water lists Crawford Lower Wisconsin Mississippi River
Lower Lemonweir River 209.62 mi 2 LW27 Water lists Adams, Juneau Lower Wisconsin Mississippi River
Middle Kickapoo River 246.53 mi 2 LW05 Water lists Monroe, Richland, Vernon Lower Wisconsin Mississippi River
Mill and Blue Mounds Creek 186.74 mi 2 LW15 Water lists Dane, Iowa, Sauk Lower Wisconsin Mississippi River
Mill and Indian Creeks 130.32 mi 2 LW10 Water lists Grant, Iowa, Richland Lower Wisconsin Mississippi River
Millville Creek 121.78 mi 2 LW01 Water lists Crawford, Grant Lower Wisconsin Mississippi River
Narrows Creek and Baraboo River 176.33 mi 2 LW22 Water lists Sauk Lower Wisconsin Mississippi River
Otter and Morrey Creeks 198.69 mi 2 LW11 Water lists Iowa, Richland, Sauk Lower Wisconsin Mississippi River
Reads and Tainter Creeks 135.69 mi 2 LW03 Water lists Crawford, Vernon Lower Wisconsin Mississippi River
Roxbury Creek 71.11 mi 2 LW18 Water lists Columbia, Dane, Iowa, Sauk Lower Wisconsin Mississippi River
Seymour Creek and Upper Baraboo River 171.73 mi 2 LW24 Water lists Juneau, Monroe, Sauk, Vernon Lower Wisconsin Mississippi River
Upper Kickapoo River 117.33 mi 2 LW06 Water lists Monroe, Vernon Lower Wisconsin Mississippi River
Upper Pine River 179.98 mi 2 LW13 Water lists Richland, Vernon Lower Wisconsin Mississippi River
West Fork Kickapoo River 118.04 mi 2 LW04 Water lists Monroe, Vernon Lower Wisconsin Mississippi River
Willow Creek 153.08 mi 2 LW12 Water lists Iowa, Richland, Sauk Lower Wisconsin Mississippi River

Plans

Watershed plans

One watershed plan has been updated in this basin. This document is an update to the Lower Wisconsin basin plan (see below). Contact Andy Morton, watershed supervisor for information.

Lower Wisconsin basin plan (2002)

Report introduction and chapters 1-6 plus appendices [PDF, 1.7 MB)

Chapter 7: watershed narratives [PDF] are below:

More information

Contact Andy Morton, watershed Supervisor, for more information.

For more on the Bad Axe La Crosse basin South central DNR staff.

See also

Last revised: Thursday January 21 2016