Rush Creek, Otter and Morrey Creeks Watershed (LW11)
Rush Creek, Otter and Morrey Creeks Watershed (LW11)
Rush Creek (1240100)
6.02 Miles
0 - 6.02
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 Mainstem
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.
2015
Good
 
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

Rush Creek (WBIC: 1240100) is a 10.45 mile long stream located in the Otter and Morrey Creeks watershed in the Lower Wisconsin River basin. The stream flows through Iowa County. Five miles of Rush creek are classified as class II trout waters. The segment beginning from the stream mouth and ending just above Weaver and Upper Wyoming Roads has a use designation of coldwater, while the remainder of the stream to the headwaters has a use designation of fish and aquatic life. The stream natural community designations within the study area are cool-cold mainstem, for much of the stream, and coldwater in the upper stream reach. About Six miles of stream from the mouth to just above the junction of Weaver Road and Upper Wyoming Roads is listed as an impaired 303 (d) water with sediment/total suspended solids listed as the pollutant and the impairment listed as degraded habitat.

Date  2012

Author  Jean Unmuth

Historical Description

Rush Creek is a tributary to the Wisconsin River. About five miles of its length are classified as a Class II trout stream (WDNR, 1980). The stream has a sediment problem and at least occasionally runs turbid (WDNR, 1991). Bank erosion, cropland erosin, cattle access to the stream and barnyard runoff are all suspected sources of the problems (WDNR, 1991).

Date  1994

Author   Surface Water Inventory Of Wisconsin

Historical Description

For 5 miles above Sneed Creek (class 2).

Date  1980

Author   Surface Water Inventory Of Wisconsin

Historical Description

Rush Creek (King) - Mouth location T8N R3ESection 16 -11, Surface area = 6.6 acres, Length = 9.2 miles, Gradient = 32.6 feet per mile, Total alkalinity 239.0 mg/l, Volume of flow = 5.0 cfs.
Rush Creek begins at springs on the Niagara escarpment of the cuesta which is part of the Galena-Black River uplands and flows northerly into the Wisconsin River. Its principal tributary is Sneed Creek (a marginal trout stream) which enters about two miles above the mouth and contributes about 40 percent of its base flow. The majority of its watershed area is cleared for farming and is typically driftless terrain which in combination encourages flooding and subsequent heavy bank erosion which occurs throughout most of its length. There is a possible source of pollution from a cheese factory whose effluent is being monitored by the Division of Environmental Protection. Its sport fishery consists of brown and rainbow trout which
are stocked occasionally as fingerlings. Forage fishes which are present include bluntnose, brassy, fathead and stoneroller minnows; blacknose and redbelly dace; johnny and fantail darters; creek chubs and white suckers. Several farm ponds also contribute to the overall fishery of the watershed. Game assets include puddleducks, beaver and muskrats near the mouth. There are no public lands on the stream but it is accessible from 10 road crossings.

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

Rush Creek, Otter and Morrey Creeks Watershed (LW11) Fish and Aquatic LifeRush Creek, Otter and Morrey Creeks Watershed (LW11) RecreationRush Creek, Otter and Morrey Creeks Watershed (LW11) Fish Consumption

General Condition

Rush Creek (WBIC 1240100) from its junction with trib near intersection of Upper Wyoming Rd and Weaver Rd to its headwaters was assessed during the 2018 listing cycle; new biological (fish Index of Biotic Integrity (IBI) scores) sample data were clearly below 2018 WisCALM listing thresholds for the Fish and Aquatic Life use. This water is meeting this designated use and is not considered impaired.

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

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

Monitoring Studies

Based on biological, physical and water chemistry analyses, it is recommended that sediment, TSS, and degraded habitat be removed as impairments in Rush Creek. However, the stream does not meet the designated use as a coldwater stream in the impaired segment, because water temperatures collected during June and July exceed the sublethal standards for cold water in NR102. Temperatures are elevated due to the series of large spring ponds in the watershed that drain to the stream; some on a continuous basis and others during rain events only. This is a situation which cannot be rectified through changes in the sub-watershed, at least at this time, as these ponds were historically permitted by the Department, and are highly valued by the Rush Creek Hunt Club because they attract wildlife for hunting.

Much of the sub-watershed has lands that are no longer in crop production, and animal grazing is not an issue. Fish, macroinvertebrates, habitat, and water quality evaluations collected during a period of seven years, with most information collected over a three year period, indicate Rush Creek appears to be in fair to good condition. Instantaneous water quality grab samples collected over a six month period indicate that the stream dissolved oxygen can support cold and cool-cold fish species, and that pH and conductivity are at acceptable levels. However, continuous temperature monitoring indicated that the stream often exceeds the maximum daily mean water temperature for cold water, in the segment downstream of Lower Wyoming Road.

A series of large ponds, flush pond water to the stream, and increase stream temperatures. The segment of stream above these ponds has water temperatures cold enough to support cold water fishes, and the Fish and Aquatic Life segment is currently meeting the designation, with fish and macroinvertebrate data exhibiting good to excellent water quality. The median for suspended solids in the impaired segment was low at 28 mg/l, with the highest values occurring during June and July after rain events, which likely flushed solids from ponds to the stream. The median level of phosphorus in the stream, in the impaired segment was 60 ug/l, or below the standard set for streams of 75 ug/l. A single sample of ammonia, nitrate-nitrite, kjeldahl nitrogen and ortho-phosphate, showed low levels of those parameters, even after a rain event.

Date  2014

Author  Jean Unmuth

Monitoring Studies

Rush Creek appears to be in fair to good condition. Instantaneous water quality grab samples collected over a five month period indicate that the stream temperature and dissolved oxygen can support cold and cool-cold fish species, and that pH and conductivity are at acceptable levels. The median phosphorus concentration did not exceed 75 ug/l, the standard for this stream. However, only 5 samples have been collected thus far. The median for suspended solids was 21 mg/l, and highest values occurred in June and July. A single sample of ammonia, nitrate-nitrite, kjeldahl nitrogen and ortho-phosphate, showed low levels of those parameters, immediately after a rain event.

Date  2012

Author  Jean Unmuth

Watershed Characteristics

Rush 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

Rush Creek is considered a Coldwater, Cool-Cold Mainstem 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) Mainstem streams are moderate-to-large but still wadeable perennial streams with cold to cool summer temperatures. Coldwater fishes are common to uncommon, transitional fishes are abundant to common, and warm water fishes are uncommon to absent. Headwater species are common to absent, mainstem species are abundant to common, and river species are common to absent.

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