Otter Creek, Otter and Morrey Creeks Watershed (LW11)
Otter Creek, Otter and Morrey Creeks Watershed (LW11)
Otter Creek (1237100)
1.48 Miles
23.30 - 24.78
Natural Community
Natural communities (stream and lake natural communities) represent model results that use predicted flow and temperature based on landscape features and related assumptions. Ranges of flow and temperature associated with specific aquatic life communities (fish, macroinvertebrates) help biologists identify appropriate resource management goals. Wisconsin's Riverine Natural Communities.
Coldwater, Cool-Cold Headwater
Year Last Monitored
This date represents the most recent date of water quality monitoring stored in the SWIMS system. Additional field surveys for fish and habitat may be available subsequent to this date.
2003
Unknown
 
Iowa
Trout Water 
Trout Waters are represented by Class I, Class II or Class III waters. These classes have specific ecological characteristics and management actions associated with them. For more information regarding Trout Classifications, see the Fisheries Trout Class Webpages.
Yes
Outstanding or Exceptional 
Wisconsin has designated many of the state's highest quality waters as Outstanding Resource Waters (ORWs) or Exceptional Resource Waters (ERWs). Waters designated as ORW or ERW are surface waters which provide outstanding recreational opportunities, support valuable fisheries and wildlife habitat, have good water quality, and are not significantly impacted by human activities. ORW and ERW status identifies waters that the State of Wisconsin has determined warrant additional protection from the effects of pollution. These designations are intended to meet federal Clean Water Act obligations requiring Wisconsin to adopt an 'antidegradation' policy that is designed to prevent any lowering of water quality - especially in those waters having significant ecological or cultural value.
No
Impaired Water 
A water is polluted or 'impaired' if it does not support full use by humans, wildlife, fish and other aquatic life and it is shown that one or more of the pollutant criteria are not met.
No

Fish and Aquatic Life

Current Use
The use the water currently supports. This is not a designation or classification; it is based on the current condition of the water. Information in this column is not designed for, and should not be used for, regulatory purposes.
Cold (Class II Trout)
Streams supporting a cold water sport fishery, or serving as a spawning area for salmonids and other cold water fish species. Representative aquatic life communities, associated with these waters, generally require cold temperatures and concentrations of dissolved oxygen that remain above 6 mg/L through natural reproduction and selective propagation. Since these waters are capable of supporting natural reproduction, a minimum dissolved oxygen concentration of 7 mg/L is required during times of active spawning and support of early life stages of newly-hatched fish.
Attainable Use
The use that the investigator believes the water could achieve through managing "controllable" sources. Beaver dams, hydroelectric dams, low gradient streams, and naturally occurring low flows are generally not considered controllable. The attainable use may be the same as the current use or it may be higher.
Cold (Class II Trout)
Streams supporting a cold water sport fishery, or serving as a spawning area for salmonids and other cold water fish species. Representative aquatic life communities, associated with these waters, generally require cold temperatures and concentrations of dissolved oxygen that remain above 6 mg/L through natural reproduction and selective propagation. Since these waters are capable of supporting natural reproduction, a minimum dissolved oxygen concentration of 7 mg/L is required during times of active spawning and support of early life stages of newly-hatched fish.
Designated Use
This is the water classification legally recognized by NR102 and NR104, Wis. Adm. Code. The classification determines water quality criteria and effluent limits. Waters obtain designated uses through classification procedures.
Cold
Streams capable of supporting a cold water sport fishery, or serving as a spawning area for salmonids and other cold water fish species. Representative aquatic life communities, associated with these waters, generally require cold temperatures and concentrations of dissolved oxygen that remain above 6 mg/L. Since these waters are capable of supporting natural reproduction, a minimum dissolved oxygen concentration of 7 mg/L is required during times of active spawning and support of early life stages of newly-hatched fish.

Overview

Otter Creek is a tributary to the Wisconsin River. The creek has been impounded to form
Blackhawk Lake. Otter Creek is a Class II trout stream for eight miles of its length above
Dickinson Creek, (Blackhawk Lake not included). The lower 15 miles are considered a warm
water sport fishery. There are some nice smaller wetland pockets adjacent to and near Otter
Creek. The state manages several easements along Otter Creek. A rare aquatic species has
been found in the creek.
Overall, the stream has been ranked as a high priority for nonpoint source pollution reduction.
Significant nonpoint sources of water pollution in the stream's lower reaches include heavy
grazing, eroding banks, and barnyards near the creek. In the middle reach of the stream, there
are problems with cattle trampling banks which causes erosion and stream sedimentation. The
stream has been listed on the impaired waters list as a result of this severe nonpoint source
pollution.
Other impairments on the creek are the result of the impoundment in the creek's headwaters.
Blackhawk Lake's bottom discharge structure does not effectively reduce water temperatures
downstream. Surveys conducted in 1999 and 2000 found a significant increase in water
temperatures below the dam and a moderate drop in dissolved oxygen levels, some of which
were below water quality standards. In addition, fisheries surveys found few cold water
species above the dam and only a warm water forage fish community below the dam, with no
intolerant species and few cold water species present. The macroinvertebrate community was
very good above the lake and fair below the lake. The lake also experiences algae blooms as
a result of nutrient loading in the lake.

From: Ripp, Coreen, Koperski, Cindy and Folstad, Jason. 2002. The State of the Lower Wisconsin River Basin. PUBL WT-559-2002. Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Madison, WI.

Date  2002

Author  Cynthia Koperski

Historical Description

Otter Creek is a tributary to the Wisconsin River. It is a Class II trout stream for eight miles of its lengh (WDNR, 1980). Significant nonpoint sources of water pollution in the stream's lower reaches include heavy grazing, exposed and eroding anks, and at least one nearby barnyard. The stream has a sediment problem in this lower reach (WDNR, 1991, Morton, 1991-1992). In the middle reach of the stream, there are problems with cattle trampling banks, causing erosion and stream sedimentation (WDNR, 1991). There are some nice smaller wetland pockets acjacent and near Otter Creek (WDNR, 1991).

Date  1994

Author   Surface Water Inventory Of Wisconsin

Historical Description

From Dickinson Creek to Baker Creek, excluding Blackhawk Lake (class 2).

Date  1980

Author   Surface Water Inventory Of Wisconsin

Historical Description

Otter Creek - Mouth location T8N R3E Section 19 -5, Surface area = 43.3 acres, Length = 21.9 miles, Gradient = 18.7 feet per mile, Total alkalinity = 249.0 mg/l, Volume of flow = 28.2 cfs.
Otter Creek is a spring and seepage fed stream which begins on the Niagara escarpment of the cuesta which is part of the Galena-Black River Uplands and flows northerly as one of the largest streams tributary to the Wisconsin River in Iowa County. Excluding the Wisconsin River it has the fourth largest volume of flow and the fourth largest watershed of all the streams which lie wholly within the county. Principal tributaries are Penn Hollow Creek, Pompey Pillar Creek, Dickinson Creek, Narveson Creek, Flint Creek and the Harker Lee Creek. They have a total base flow of 19.0 cfs which is approximately 67 percent of Otter Creek's total. The major land uses in the watershed is that of cattle pasture and cropland with almost 100 percent of it being devoted to these enterprises. As a result of intensive and land use steep and rugged topography, surface runoff during periods of heavy precipitation is very rapid with resultant floods and erosion with general losses of crops and real property. Because of this an Otter Creek Watershed Plan, inaugurated by state and federal agencies under Public Law 566, was prepared. Under this plan six structures are to be built on Otter Creek and its tributaries. One of these will be a multi-purpose structure with a permanent pool. This pool will be formed by damming Otter Creek (Cave Hollow) and Narveson Creek just above their confluence and will be called Blackhawk Lake. Four of these structures are strictly for erosion control and will be located on Pompey Pillar Creek, Smokey Hollow Creek, Harker Lee Creek, and Flint Creek. The sixth structure scheduled for Morrey Creek will have a wet pool.

Possible sources of pollution in the watershed exists in six cheese factories, two of which are located on the mainstream and four on tributaries. Their operation is closely checked by the Division of Environmental Protection.
The sport fishery of this stream is well rounded and very productive. The lower sections contain principally smallmouth bass and catfish but northern pike, walleyes, warmouth bass and bluegills are present. The game fish population of the upper sections is predominately brown trout but some rainbow and brook trout are present. Nine farm ponds which have been surveyed and a sportsmen's rearing pond also contribute to the overall fish production of the watershed. There is also a large and varied forage and rough fish population in the mainstream which includes bluntnose and suckermouth minnows; emerald, bigmouth, common and spotfin shiners; creek and hornyhead chubs; hog and white suckers; johnny darters, brook silversides, redhorse and carp. Aquatic game assets include muskrats throughout most of its length, woodduck, blue-winged teal, green herons and blue herons. There is a public boat landing with parking at the mouth which serves as access for both lower Otter Creek and the Wisconsin River. There are no public lands on the stream but it is accessible from 14 road crossings located throughout its length.

From: Piening, Ronald and Threinen, C.W., 1968. Lake and Stream Classification Project. Surface Water Resources of Iowa County, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Madison, WI.

Date  1968

Author   Surface Water Inventory Of Wisconsin

Otter Creek, Otter and Morrey Creeks Watershed (LW11) Fish and Aquatic LifeOtter Creek, Otter and Morrey Creeks Watershed (LW11) RecreationOtter Creek, Otter and Morrey Creeks Watershed (LW11) Fish Consumption

Impaired Waters

Otter Creek (WBIC 1237100) from its mouth to Baker Creek was listed for Sediment in 1998. The TMDL for sediment was approved in 2008. The creek from its mouth to Dickinson Creek was listed for Total Phosphorus in 2014. The creek from Dickinson Creek to Blackhawk Lake dam was listed for Elevated Water Temperature in 2016.

Date  2017

Author  Ashley Beranek

Condition

Wisconsin has over 84,000 miles of streams, 15,000 lakes and milllions of acres of wetlands. Assessing the condition of this vast amount of water is challenging. The state's water monitoring program uses a media-based, cross-program approach to analyze water condition. An updated monitoring strategy (2015-2020) is now available.

Compliance with Clean Water Act fishable, swimmable standards are located in the Executive Summary of Water Condition in 2016 . See also 'monitoring' and 'projects'.

Reports

Recommendations

TMDL Approved (USEPA)
TMDL approved for three TSS TMDLs which will address the degraded habitat impairment on Otter Creek.
Monitor with Baseline Survey
Baseline monitoring should be conducted on Otter Creek.

Management Goals

Wisconsin's Water Quality Standards provide qualitative and quantitative goals for waters that are protective of Fishable, Swimmable conditions [Learn more]. Waters that do not meet water quality standards are considered impaired and restoration actions are planned and carried out until the water is once again fishable and swimmable

Management goals can include creation and implementation of a Total Maximum Daily Load Analysis, habitat restoration work, partnership education and outreach and more. If specific recommendations exist for this water, they will be displayed below.

Monitoring

Monitoring the condition of a river, stream, or lake includes gathering physical, chemical, biological, and habitat data. Comprehensive studies often gather all these parameters in great detail, while lighter assessment events will involve sampling physical, chemical and biological data such as macroinvertebrates. Aquatic macroinvertebrates and fish communities integrate watershed or catchment condition, providing great insight into overall ecosystem health. Chemical and habitat parameters tell researchers more about human induced problems including contaminated runoff, point source dischargers, or habitat issues that foster or limit the potential of aquatic communities to thrive in a given area. Wisconsin's Water Monitoring Strategy was recenty updated.

Grants and Management Projects

Monitoring Projects

Watershed Characteristics

Otter Creek is located in the Otter and Morrey Creeks watershed which is 198.69 miĀ². Land use in the watershed is primarily forest (48%), agricultural (42%) and a mix of wetland (4%) and other uses (6%). This watershed has 437.57 stream miles, 351.55 lake acres and 5,785.74 wetland acres.

Nonpoint Source Characteristics

This watershed is ranked Not Ranked for runoff impacts on streams, Low for runoff impacts on lakes and High for runoff impacts on groundwater and therefore has an overall rank of High. This value can be used in ranking the watershed or individual waterbodies for grant funding under state and county programs.However, all waters are affected by diffuse pollutant sources regardless of initial water quality. Applications for specific runoff projects under state or county grant programs may be pursued. For more information, go to surface water program grants.

Natural Community

Otter Creek is considered a Coldwater, Cool-Cold Headwater under the state's Natural Community Determinations.

Natural communities (stream and lake natural communities) represent model results that use predicted flow and temperature based on landscape features and related assumptions. Ranges of flow and temperature associated with specific aquatic life communities (fish, macroinvertebrates) help biologists identify appropriate resource management goals. Wisconsin's Riverine Natural Communities.

Cool (Cold-Transition) Headwaters are small, usually perennial streams with cold to cool summer temperatures. Coldwater fishes are common to uncommon (<10 per 100 m), transitional fishes are abundant to common, and warm water fishes are uncommon to absent. Headwater species are abundant to common, mainstem species are common to absent, and river species are absent.

More Interactive Maps
Maps of Watershed