Fish and Aquatic Life
This tributary to the East Branch of the Pecatonica River begins in the driftless area of Green County and flows southwestward into Lafayette County. Most of the stream is managed as a Class II trout fishery. In the flatter stretches, the bottom is composed primarily of silt, while the steeper sections contain mostly gravel and rubble (Surface Water Resources of Green County, 1980). Most macroinvertebrate samples taken from 1985 through 1990 indicated “very good” water quality. The stream suffers from bank erosion and low flow in the headwaters and sediment deposition, turbidity, and channel straightening in the lower reaches.
Monitoring conducted in 2004 and 2007 shows the stream to contain brown trout as well as eurythermal species. Most of the species making up this latter category are species tolerant to habitat disturbance such as creek chub and white sucker; however, there are also several darter species and simple lithophils such as common shiner and southern redbelly dace. Macroinvertebrate samples continue to show “very good” water quality from an organic loading standpoint. Macroinvertebrate IBIs vary between “poor” and good”. Indications are that the stream is a disturbed cool-warm transitional stream that has not changed much over the past 2 decades.
Author James Amrhein
This moderate sized trout stream flows southwest through the driftless area of Green County and into Lafayette County, where it enters the East Branch of the Pecatonica River. An unnamed tributary enters Sawmill Creek in Section 15 and Erickson Creek, another trout stream, enters just inside the Lafayette County line. The creek flows through cropland, pasture and hardwood forest. In the flatter stretches the bottom is composed primarily of silt, while in the steeper segments (Sections 20 and 29) the bottom is predominantly gravel and rubble.
Bank erosion is moderate to heavy in the pastured areas and the water is generally turbid. Sawmill Creek is managed as Class II brown trout water in its entirety. Trout spawning occurs in Sections 20 and 29 where there is a gravel bottom and a good pool-riffle ratio. The lack of good spawning substrate in other stretches limits natural trout reproduction. Forage fish densities are very high and a few northern pike are present. Wildlife values consist of muskrats and a very limited number of migrating ducks. Public access and frontage consists of seven public road crossings.
Fish Species: Brown trout, northern pike, central stoneroller, hornyhead chub, common shiner, southern red- belly dace, bluntnose minnow, creek chub, white sucker, shorthead redhorse, brook stickleback, fantail darter, Johnny darter.
Surface Acres = 8.6, Length = 6.0 Miles, Gradient = 26 ft./mi., Base Oischarge = 11.5 cu. ft./sec.
Bush, D.M., R. Cornelius, D. Engle, and C.L. Brynildson. 1980. Lake and Stream Classification Project. Surface Water Resources of Green County, 2nd Edition. Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Madison, Wisconsin.
Author Surface Water Inventory Of Wisconsin
Sawmill Creek begins in Green County and flows southwesterly into Lafayette County. In less than three miles, it enters the East Branch of the Pecatonica River. The vegetative cover of the direct drainage area is predominantly agricultural crops. The floodplain is mostly in meadow pasture and woodland while the uplands are in crops and wooded pasture. Bank erosion is moderate within the county. The most common bottom types are silt, hardpan and gravel, in that order. For fish management purposes, it is considered a better than average trout stream. However, most of the more productive portion is in Green County. Erickson Creek, a major tributary, is also considered a good trout stream and enters Sawmill Creek within the county. The section within Lafayette County contains some trout and also smallmouth bass. Both streams are stocked annually with brown trout. Aquatic game consists principally of muskrats. Upland game species found in the basin are pheasants, Hungarian partridge, ruffed grouse, and the common upland mammals. There are no lands in public ownership. Access is restricted to two road bridges, and is considered adequate.
From: Piening, Ronald; Poff, Ronald; Threinen, C.W., 1967. Lake and Stream Classification Project. Surface Water Resources of Lafayette County, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Madison, WI.
Author Surface Water Inventory Of Wisconsin
The Sawmill Creek (Mouth to the Lafayette-Green county line) was assessed during the 2018 listing cycle; available biological data did not indicate impairment (i.e. no macroinvertebrate or fish Index of Biotic Integrity (IBI) scored in the "poor" condition category) based on the 2018 WisCALM listing thresholds for the Fish and Aquatic Life use. This water was meeting this designated use and was not considered impaired.
Author Amanda Smith
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'.
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 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
|WBIC||Official Waterbody Name||Station ID||Station Name||Earliest Fieldwork Date||Latest Fieldwork Date||View Station||View Data|
|906000||Sawmill Creek||10012081||Sawmill Creek - Upstream Of Sth 78||10/30/1990||9/10/2016||Map||Data|
|906000||Sawmill Creek||10013378||Sawmill Creek 1-10||Map||Data|
|906000||Sawmill Creek||10013384||Sawmill Creek 11-15||Map||Data|
Sawmill Creek is located in the Lower East Branch Pecatonica Rivers watershed which is 144.80 mi². Land use in the watershed is primarily agricultural (76%), forest (16%) and a mix of suburban (4%) and other uses (3%). This watershed has 370.96 stream miles, 107.68 lake acres and 2,029.49 wetland acres.
Nonpoint Source Characteristics
This watershed is ranked Not Available for runoff impacts on streams, Not Available 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.