Lower Rock River Basin

Description

Lower Rock River Basin

Lower Rock River, Photo by Jeff Margeneau, WDNR.

Lower Rock River, Photo by Jeff Margenau, WDNR

The Rock River Basin covers over 3,700 square miles and is located in the south central part of Wisconsin. The Basin's natural resources are the legacy of the last period of Wisconsin glaciation. Many Native American tribal peoples lived here because of the outstanding land, water, and wildlife resources in the Basin. European settlers described the Basin as a paradise of fertile soils, large forests, and many clear sparkling rivers and lakes. Much has changed over the last 150 years. Today, most of the prairies and oak savannas are gone, the wetlands are diminished by 50%, and most forests have been cut down to make way for agriculture. Currently, agriculture dominates the land use; however urbanization in the Basin is growing rapidly.

Overall, some of the Rock River Basin's natural resources are slightly improved compared to 20 years ago. Land management and forestry law changes have supported a small increase in forests in the Basin. Better treatment at wastewater treatment plants has improved water quality in some stretches of streams. Yet today, most water bodies in the Basin remain significantly impacted by soil and nutrients washing into the streams and lakes from urban and rural storm water runoff. Wildlife habitat continues to be lost and fragmentation of habitat accelerates.

Today, the most serious challenges facing the Basin include:

  • Water quality impacts and increased runoff quantity from agriculture and urban land uses, such that many of the rivers and streams are not meeting water quality standards.
  • Loss of agricultural lands, with its effect on wildlife habitat, recreational usages, the rural landowners, and economy.
  • Loss of critical sensitive habitat and connection between habitats.
  • Lower urban groundwater levels due to increased use and decreased groundwater infiltration due to more acres of impervious land.
  • Significant groundwater contamination in areas of the Basin.

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Watersheds, Waters

Watershed, Water Details

Click the links below to find water resource information for specific watersheds and their waters.

Watershed Name/View DetailsWatershed Code/MapWatershed SizeLists (Streams, Lakes, Bays & Harbors)CountiesWater Management Unit (WMU)Major Drainage System
Badfish Creek LR07 84.21 mi 2 LR07 Water Lists Dane, Green, RockLower RockMississippi River
Bark River LR13 185.84 mi 2 LR13 Water Lists Jefferson, Washington, WaukeshaLower RockMississippi River
Bass Creek LR03 113.1 mi 2 LR03 Water Lists RockLower RockMississippi River
Blackhawk Creek LR02 108.11 mi 2 LR02 Water Lists Rock, WalworthLower RockMississippi River
Lower Koshkonong Creek LR11 265.61 mi 2 LR11 Water Lists Dane, Jefferson, Rock, WalworthLower RockMississippi River
Marsh Creek LR05 43.73 mi 2 LR05 Water Lists RockLower RockMississippi River
Rock River - Milton LR04 48.76 mi 2 LR04 Water Lists RockLower RockMississippi River
Scuppernong River LR15 87.43 mi 2 LR15 Water Lists Jefferson, Walworth, WaukeshaLower RockMississippi River
Six Mile and Pheasant Branch Creeks LR10 119.45 mi 2 LR10 Water Lists DaneLower RockMississippi River
Turtle Creek LR01 288.47 mi 2 LR01 Water Lists Rock, WalworthLower RockMississippi River
Upper Koshkonong Creek LR12 104.25 mi 2 LR12 Water Lists Dane, JeffersonLower RockMississippi River
Whitewater Creek LR14 75.3 mi 2 LR14 Water Lists Jefferson, Rock, WalworthLower RockMississippi River
Yahara River and Lake Kegonsa LR06 126.33 mi 2 LR06 Water Lists Dane, RockLower RockMississippi River
Yahara River and Lake Mendota LR09 112.56 mi 2 LR09 Water Lists Columbia, DaneLower RockMississippi River
Yahara River and Lake Monona LR08 93.73 mi 2 LR08 Water Lists DaneLower RockMississippi River

Projects, Details

Basin Information

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Plans

Watershed Plans

The Lower Rock River Watershed Plans below have been updated in this basin. These documents are updates to the Lower Rock Basin Plan (see below). Contact Sue Josheff, Watershed Supervisor for information.

Rock River Plan (2001)

Last Revised: