Lowes Creek, Lowes and Rock Creeks Watershed (LC24)
Lowes Creek, Lowes and Rock Creeks Watershed (LC24)
Lowes Creek (2123900)
11.31 Miles
0.69 - 12
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.
Cool-Cold Mainstem, 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.
2014
Poor
 
This river is impaired
Water Quality Use Restrictions
Total Phosphorus
 
Eau Claire
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.
Yes

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.
FAL
Fish and Aquatic Life - waters that do not have a specific use designation subcategory assigned but which are considered fishable, swimmable waters.
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
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.
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

The portion of Lowes Creek from the Hwy 37/85 bridge upstream to its headwaters is designated
as an exceptional resources water (ERW). This designation requires that any new point source
discharge receive effluent limits that are as stringent as existing background water quality in Lowes
Creek, unless the discharge is needed to correct an environmental problem. The stream is well
buffered from development due to its canyon-like banks. Large trout are found in Lowes Creek,
which is an excellent natural resource within a growing metropolitan area.
The headwaters of Lowes Creek drains agricultural land and wetlands, while the downstream
portion drains about 1,200 acres of urban area via storm sewers. Reducing urban impacts on water
quality is the main focus of the small-scale priority watershed project. Acquiring streambank
easements, building optimal storm water treatment facilities, and formulating and enforcing a storm
water management ordinance are being implemented to protect the habitat and water quality of
Lowes Creek. The Lowes Creek watershed above County Highway H, including Lowes and
Graham Creeks, was selected for fee title land acquisition under the stewardship program.
Currently, 306 acres are owned by WDNR, protecting 1.3 miles of stream.
Water quality results of storm sewer outfall sampling during runoff showed elevated levels of
suspended sediment and copper, lead, and zinc. Pesticide sampling of Lowes Creek below the outfall
during storm runoff turned up only a single detection of atrazine at a very low level in August,
1991. Erosion of the storm water discharge structure contributed a significant quantity of sediment
during several storms (Schreiber) .
A large car dealership recently built near Lowes Creek has incorporated on-site storm water
management practices, including clean water diversion, roof and paved area runoff infiltration and
zinc-free roofing. The objectives of this project were to increase infiltration of storm water to keep
the water as clean and cool as possible before it reaches Lowes Creek. This demonstration project
was partially funded by the priority watershed program and Eau Claire County. Efforts to educate
customers and the public about benefits of storm water management at the site include tours, a fish
tank with live trout, and informational posters in the dealership (Stmss).
Recently, rubber bladders and barrels containing banbury sludge were removed from the surface of
an old landfill adjacent to Lowes Creek. Some buried barrels remain. Similar wastes were found at
another landfill along West Creek (Bnunberg). High zinc levels were determined to contribute to
toxicity problems in West Creek. It is unknown if the remaining barrels near Lowes Creek harm
the aquatic community (LaLiberte)

Date  1996

Author   Aquatic Biologist

Lowes Creek, Lowes and Rock Creeks Watershed (LC24) Fish and Aquatic LifeLowes Creek, Lowes and Rock Creeks Watershed (LC24) RecreationLowes Creek, Lowes and Rock Creeks Watershed (LC24) Fish Consumption

General Condition

The Lowes Creek (from mouth to Hwy 37 & 85) was assessed during the 2018 listing cycle; temperature data did not exceed the 2018 WisCALM listing thresholds for the Fish and Aquatic Life use. This water was meeting this designated use and not considered impaired.

Date  2017

Author  Amanda Smith

General Condition

Lowes Creek (miles 12-24.29) was assessed during the 2018 listing cycle; new biological (fish Index of Biotic Integrity (IBI) scores) sample data were clearly below the 2018 WisCALM listing thresholds for the Fish and Aquatic Life use. This water was meeting this designated use and was not considered impaired.

Date  2017

Author  Ashley Beranek

Impaired Waters

The Lowes Creek (Near Redwood Drive to Highway 37) 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. Chloride and temperature data did not exceed thresholds. This water was not meeting this designated use and was considered impaired. No listing change was needed to this already impaired water.

Date  2017

Author  Amanda Smith

Impaired Waters

Lowes Creek (2123900) from Hwy 37 to near Hailey Ln was placed on the impaired waters list for total phosphorus in 2012. The 2016 assessments showed continued impairment by phosphorus; total phosphorus sample data overwhelmingly exceeded 2016 WisCALM listing thresholds for the Fish and Aquatic Life use, however, available biological data do 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  2015

Author  Aaron Larson

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

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.

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

Lowes Creek is located in the Lowes and Rock Creeks watershed which is 219.17 miĀ². Land use in the watershed is primarily agricultural (49%), forest (29%) and a mix of wetland (7%) and other uses (15%). This watershed has 372.30 stream miles, 317.07 lake acres and 12,231.21 wetland acres.

Nonpoint Source Characteristics

This watershed is ranked Low 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.This water is ranked High Stream for individual Rivers based on runoff problems and the likelihood of success from project implementation.

Natural Community

Lowes Creek is considered a Cool-Cold Mainstem, 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.

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