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Lisa Helmuth
Water Quality Bureau

The Black River basin

The Black River basin encompasses approximately 2,400 square miles, contains 13 watersheds and includes portions of seven counties. Two distinct topographic regions determine flow characteristics of the tributary streams. The upper and middle portion were glaciated as evidenced by the kettle hole lakes in Taylor County, rounded ridges, silty soils and numerous wetlands. The unglaciated southwestern portion of the basin contains sandy soils, steep gradient tributaries and narrow valleys.

The northern half of this basin contains low gradient, warmwater streams with base flows largely influenced by rainfall amounts. Poor drainage results in rapid runoff of rain and snowmelt as well as minimal groundwater influence on stream flows. The lower half of the basin is characterized by gently rolling hills and steep terrain that is drained by many higher gradient coldwater streams. Increased groundwater influence on stream flow and temperatures results from the drainage capacity of the sandy soils. However, these sandy soils are also very fragile. Only a small amount of disturbance is needed to create an unstable bank that may contribute tons of sand per year to a stream.

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Last revised: Thursday December 10 2015