Sugar River, Upper Sugar River,Allen Creek and Middle Sugar River,West Branch Sugar River - Mt. Vernon Cre Watershed (SP13, SP15, SP16)
Sugar River, Upper Sugar River,Allen Creek and Middle Sugar River,West Branch Sugar River - Mt. Vernon Cre Watershed (SP13, SP15, SP16)
Upper Sugar River (875300)
26.19 Miles
56.14 - 82.33
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, Shallow Lowland, Cool-Warm 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.
2017
Good
 
Dane, Green
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.
Yes
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.
FAL Coldwater
Fish and Aquatic Life Coldwater - waters that do not have a specific designated (codified use) but which are have documented scientific support to ascertain indicating that the water is a cold fishable, swimmable water.

Overview

A 22-mile section of the Sugar River from the dam at Belleville down to the dam at Albany runs through this watershed. As is the case for most of the river, it is a diverse warm water sport fishery and an ERW.

In fact, the Sugar River has one of the most diverse warmwater fisheries in southern Wisconsin. At least 50 different species have been identified. Seven species of panfish, including black crappies and bluegills as well as gamefish such as channel catfish, smallmouth bass, and northern pike are found in the river.

Numerous backwaters and wetlands adjoin the river and provide excellent wildlife habitat. Mallards, wood ducks, and teal nest in the area. Hunting, fishing, canoeing and wildlife watching are popular recreational uses of the river although its high sediment load and variable flow can restrict these activities in certain places. There are two boat accesses just upstream from Albany Lake. The lake itself is a 102-acre impoundment that provides some limited fishing opportunities. A current plan to create a fish passage around the dam at Belleville will facilitate fish movement up and downstream.

The village of Belleville discharges to the Sugar River. A new treatment plant was completed in year and has helped alleviate past problems with biological oxygen demand and suspended solids.

Date  

Author   Aquatic Biologist

Overview

The Sugar River begins in the Town of Springdale and flows south, where it leaves the Upper Sugar River Watershed at the Village of Belleville. This entire stretch of the Sugar River is classified as an exceptional resource water (ERW). Large wetland complexes exist adjacent to the Sugar River. Much of the lowlands in particular from CTH P in the northwest to its confluence with Badger Mill Creek and from CTH A to Lake Belle View, are designated as wetlands on state wetland surveys. (Maybe do a wetland map instead?)

Water quality in the river is good and has gradually improved (WDNR, 1992-93). The river’s dissolved oxygen concentrations are high enough to support both a warm and cold water fishery. Mottled sculpin are distributed along the main branch of the Sugar River to its headwaters. They are a native species that is capable of living or growing only within a limited range of temperature, and their presence is an indication of cold temperatures and good water quality. Currently, the water from the headwaters to the Frenchtown Road bridge is capable of sustaining, and even promoting growth in trout populations. Typically, however, the trout found in the Sugar River migrate into the Sugar River from Mt. Vernon Creek or Badger Mill Creek. The abundance of forage species allows for excellent growth rates in the larger trout. In 2002, fish monitoring was conducted at 10 stations from Frenchtown Road up to the headwaters. Habitat indices we taken at two sites.

Land use in the watershed has had a significant impact on the river. In fact, the Upper Sugar River Watershed is located on the outskirts of the expanding Madison metropolitan urban area. This transition from agriculture to development in the headwaters not only affects baseflow conditions, but it also can increase nonpoint source pollution and stormwater runoff. Changes in land use also effect the hydrology and sediment transport within the river, which has a particularly pervasive impact on all areas downstream.

Hydrologic modification of the river, particularly wetland draining and stream straightening, has also contributed to degraded habitat and water quality in the river. In fact, the upper reaches of the Sugar River near Riley continue to suffer from heavy erosion due to poor agricultural practices. Other alterations of the river, such as the creation of Lake Belle View, have also had an impact on the river by raising water temperatures and reducing habitat. In addition, the Belleville dam acts to impede fish migration.

The effect of nonpoint source pollution on the river has had several impacts on the river. High fecal coliform levels in the stream have also been of concern, but fortunately, have shown some improvement (DCRPC 1999). Most of all, nonpoint source pollution increases the sedimentation and the turbidity of the water. The high degree of turbidity in the water is detrimental to the trout population in the river. Habitat, however, is the limiting factor in the river (Stewart, 2002). If efforts to improve the aquatic ecosystem, including adjacent wetlands, are successful, this may lead to the establishment of naturally reproducing populations of trout Based on what we saw in 2002, aren’t we already seeing this? and an increase in the population of aquatic insects and forage fish.

Date  2002

Author   Aquatic Biologist

Historical Description

Sugar River - T5N, R8E, Sec. 35, Surface acres = 120, Length = 30 miles, Stream order = III, Gradient = 4.1 ft/mile, Base discharge = 70 cfs.
The headwaters of the Sugar River originate in Section 31 of Cross Plains Township (T7N, R7E) and western reaches of the glacial moraine region. The river flows southeastward, draining over 200 miles of pasture and cropland in Dane County and eventually joining the Rock River In Illinois. Sugar River watershed contains approximately 2,000 acres of diverse wetland resources that provide habltat for waterfowl and wildlife. Many additional acres of wetlands have been drained for agricultural use (Dane Cty. Reg. Plann. Comm. 1979a).
Water quality of the Sugar River is affected by the discharge of biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) waste and suspended solids from a milk processing plant at Belleville. The town's sewage treatment has also been polluting the river, but construction is underway on a new plant scheduled for completion in June 1983. Fecal coliform levels frequently exceed the recommended maxlmum for body contact recreation (Wis. Dep. Nat. Res. unpubl., Dane Cty. Reg. Plann. Comm. 1979a). Erosion is also a problem in some areas although this river has not been channelized. Any success in adopting better land use practices and reducing nonpoint source pollution through the efforts of the Upper Sugar River Watershed
Association will benefit the water quality downstream in the Sugar River.
Five tributaries to the Sugar River support trout populations and the potential for fishery improvement in the river itself is good. There are several springs along the river which keep the temperature down, and oxygen levels are generally good. Base discharge is high despite the low stream gradient. Erosion and agricultural runoff must be reduced significantly if any areas of the Sugar River are to support trout. At the present time, the river supports a diverse forage fishery, some panflsh and rough fish, and a smallmouth bass fishery downstream from the Paoli Mill Dam. Some areas of the stream also provide excellent fishing for northern pike and channel catfish. Access is available at 19 crossings and through the mill ponds at Paoli and Belleville. The river is navigable by canoe and recreational value is high on the river itself as well as within adjacent wetlands. Swimming is not recommended because of periodic high bacteria levels.
The river provides opportunities for jump shooting waterfowl, i.e., mallard, blue-winged teal, and wood duck. Beavers, muskrats, and mink attract many trappers.
Fish species: central mudminnow, stoneroller (unsp.), central stoneroller, common carp, brassy and hornyhead chub, common, spotfin, and sand shiner, suckermouth, bluntnose, and fathead minnow, creek chub, redhorse (unsp.), white and northern hog sucker, silver, golden, and shorthead redhorse, brown bullhead, stonecat, channel catfish, brook stickleback, green sunfish, smallmouth and largemouth bass, black crappie, rainbow, fantail, johnny, and blackside darter, walleye, mottled sculpin, and northern pike.

From: Day, Elizabeth A.; Grzebieniak, Gayle P.; Osterby, Kurt M.; and Brynildson, Clifford L., 1985. Lake and Stream Classification Project. Surface Water Resources of Dane County, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Madison, WI.

Date  1985

Author   Surface Water Inventory Of Wisconsin

Historical Description

From: Ball, Joseph R., and Ronald J. Poff, Lake and Stream Classification Project. Surface Water Resources of Rock County, Department of Natural Resources, 1970.

Surface Acres = 128.4, }tiles = 10.6, Gradient = 1.4 feet per mile.

A drainage and seepage fed stream meandering southeast across the southwest edge of the county. It is one of the largest rivers, and has adjoining it probably the most productive marsh area found in the county. The Sugar River bottom is noted for its stand of very large elms and maples and a unique stand of large swamp white oaks. The outstanding aesthetic value of the area can be best appreciated by floating the
river in autumn.

The fishery is composed of smallmouth bass, black crappies, white crappies, channel catfish, brown and black bullheads, northern pike, carp, and numerous ot11er warm-water species. The Sugar River is regarded as one of the best channel catfish streams in southern Wisconsin and an estimated 80 percent of the fishing pressure is directed towards this species.
Wildlife resources found in the Sugar River bottom include deer, squirrels, pheasants, quail, woodcock, red and grey foxes, raccoons, opossums, muskrats, mink, and beaver. The area is heavily used by migrating waterfowl and some nesting occurs. The most common water- fowl species are woodducks, blue-winged teal and mallards. A few geese are also occasionally observed.

Wetland adjoining the river totals 1,347 acres, 87 percent of which is wooded. The unwooded areas include both shallow and deep marsh, and fresh meadow. The Avon Bottoms Wildlife area includes 1,322 acres of public hunting and fishing grounds along the Sugar River. Boat launching and parking is provided at two town road crossings. Access is also possible at the crossing of County Trunk T.

Date  1970

Author   Surface Water Inventory Of Wisconsin

Sugar River, Upper Sugar River,Allen Creek and Middle Sugar River,West Branch Sugar River - Mt. Vernon Cre Watershed (SP13, SP15, SP16) Fish and Aquatic LifeSugar River, Upper Sugar River,Allen Creek and Middle Sugar River,West Branch Sugar River - Mt. Vernon Cre Watershed (SP13, SP15, SP16) RecreationSugar River, Upper Sugar River,Allen Creek and Middle Sugar River,West Branch Sugar River - Mt. Vernon Cre Watershed (SP13, SP15, SP16) Fish Consumption

Impaired Waters

The 2018 assessments of the Sugar River (miles 10.99-56.14) showed continued impairment by phosphorus; new total phosphorus sample data exceeded 2018 WisCALM listing criteria for the Fish and Aquatic Life use, however, 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 most updated information, no change in existing impaired waters listing is needed.

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

Aquatic Invasives Research
RIVER ALLIANCE OF WISCONSIN: Gambusia infestation- Sugar River Test a technique to mechanically remove as many exotic Gambusia (mosquitofish) as possible from the slough where their population expanded this past summer. The goals of the project are to test this method of sequentially blocking sections of the slough from the mouth to the top, shocking, collecting, and netting, in a repeated fashion), and actually removing as many of these destructive fishes as possible in order to create a more favorable habitat for the return of the native topminnows.
Aquatic Invasive Species Removal
Test a technique to mechanically remove as many exotic Gambusia (mosquitofish) as possible from the slough where their population expanded this past summer. The goals of the project are to test this method of sequentially blocking sections of the slough from the mouth to the top, shocking, collecting, and netting, in a repeated fashion), and actually removing as many of these destructive fishes as possible in order to create a more favorable habitat for the return of the native topminnows.
Citizen-Based Stream Monitoring
Collect chemical, physical, and/or biological water quality data to assess the current overall stream health. The data can inform management decisions and may be used to identify impaired waters for biennial lists.
Citizen-Based Stream Monitoring
Collect chemical, physical, and/or biological water quality data to assess the current overall stream health. The data can inform management decisions and may be used to identify impaired waters for biennial lists.
Citizen-Based Stream Monitoring
Collect chemical, physical, and/or biological water quality data to assess the current overall stream health. The data can inform management decisions and may be used to identify impaired waters for biennial lists.
Citizen-Based Stream Monitoring
Collect chemical, physical, and/or biological water quality data to assess the current overall stream health. The data can inform management decisions and may be used to identify impaired waters for biennial lists.
Citizen-Based Stream Monitoring
Collect chemical, physical, and/or biological water quality data to assess the current overall stream health. The data can inform management decisions and may be used to identify impaired waters for biennial lists.
Citizen-Based Stream Monitoring
Collect chemical, physical, and/or biological water quality data to assess the current overall stream health. The data can inform management decisions and may be used to identify impaired waters for biennial lists.
Monitor Water Quality or Sediment
Category 2. Will reassess with updated methods next cycle. 2018 TP Results: May Exceed. Station: 10009364. AU: 1520990.
TMDL Implementatoin
Sugar Pecatonica TMDL
Restore Wetlands
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Standards Details

Trout Stream Location: From origins at CTH P in T7N, R7E, S 33 of Cross Plains Township to Frenchtown Rd in T5N, R5E in Montrose Township. The water is a Class II based on a 2002 Survey Work. There is the presence of an abundant brown trout resource comprised of multiple classes showing sufficient number and survival as well as natural reproduction. Trout Stream Classification Checklist and Public Notice 7/7/08, and the Survey Report Submitted 6/2005, Kurt Welke.

Date  2008

Author   Aquatic Biologist

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

Sugar River is located in the Allen Creek and Middle Sugar River watershed which is 154.01 miĀ². Land use in the watershed is primarily agricultural (78%), forest (10%) and a mix of suburban (6%) and other uses (5%). This watershed has 263.25 stream miles, 96.10 lake acres and 5,963.23 wetland acres.

Nonpoint Source Characteristics

This watershed is ranked Medium for runoff impacts on streams, Not Ranked 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

Upper Sugar River is considered a Coldwater, Cool-Cold Mainstem, Shallow Lowland, Cool-Warm 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.

Shallow lowland lake describes the depth and location of the lake in a watershed. These variables affect the lakes response to watershed variables.