Rock River, Rock River - Milton Watershed (LR04)
Rock River, Rock River - Milton Watershed (LR04)
Rock River Traxler Park Skier's Platform Beach, Rock River (788800)
0.17 Miles
0 - 0
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.
Not Determined
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
Unknown
 
Rock
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.
No
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.
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.
FAL
Fish and Aquatic Life - waters that do not have a specific use designation subcategory assigned but which are considered fishable, swimmable waters.
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.
Default FAL
Fish and Aquatic Life - Default Waters do not have a specific use designation subcategory but are considered fishable, swimmable waters.

Overview

Watertown (population 21,420) is the largest city in the Upper Rock River Basin. The Rock River, which winds through Watertown, is the community's major water resource, providing numerous recreational opportunities. There are two small Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) licensed hydropower dams at Watertown. A 1994 water quality study conducted as part of the FERC relicensing process indicated that the upper dam had little impact on water quality (Hansis, 1995). However, flow reductions in the river resulting from hydropower operations at the Upper Watertown Dam may seriously threaten aquatic habitat. The slender madtom, a state endangered catfish species, is susceptible to flow reductions; its prime habitat is fast moving riffle areas.

An old coal gasification plant site exists in Watertown; little is known regarding potential threats to groundwater or surface water in the immediate area (WDNR, 1994)

Watertown has land use and facilities plans for the city's wastewater treatment plant service area. In 2001, the city began the process to develop a sewer service area plan pursuant to Chapter NR 121, Wisconsin Administrative Code. Such a plan would guide growth within Watertown's anticipated 20-year service area. The plan would identify areas for development and guide how that development will be staged over time to allow the most cost-effective expansion of sewer services. The plan would also identify environmentally sensitive areas such as wetlands, floodplains, stormwater conveyance and treatment areas, and other areas unsuitable for development or otherwise not to be developed (e.g., parks).

Watertown is experiencing development pressure largely due to its location approximately halfway between Madison and Milwaukee. No evaluation of construction site erosion problems or stormwater management has been conducted. Watertown should develop a comprehensive stormwater management plan in conjunction with current land use or long range development plans.

The City of Jefferson is at the juncture of the Crawfish and Rock rivers, which are regionally important recreational and aesthetic natural resources. The Jefferson wastewater treatment plant is addressing phosphorus reduction in its permit compliance schedule. A dam on the Rock River at Jefferson is obstructing fish migration. Studies have been conducted through the DNR and the US Corps of Engineers to assess installation of a fish passage at the dam.

The City of Fort Atkinson needs a sewer service plan to guide growth within its anticipated 20-year service area. Such a plan would identify areas for development and guide how that development will be staged over time. The plan would also identify environmentally sensitive areas such as wetlands, floodplains, stormwater conveyance and treatment areas, and other areas unsuitable for development or otherwise not to be developed (e.g., parks).

Date  2002

Author   Aquatic Biologist

Historical Description

A large seepage and drainage fed stream originating in Fond du Lac, Dodge and Washington Counties. The Rock River enters Rock County at the foot of Lake Koshkonong, flows south through the center of the county, and into Illinois at Beloit. Four dams are located on the river in Rock County; Indianford Dam (6 foot head) located 6 miles below Lake Koshkonong, Janesville Central Dam (9 foot head) and Monterey Dam (9 foot head) located in Janesville, and Beloit Dam (10 foot head) located in Beloit. The 4 dams were originally constructed for hydroelectric power, but only the Janesville Central and Beloit Dams are still used for this purpose. The Indianford and Monterey Dams are maintained for recreation and flood control.

Flooding is a potential hazard along the Rock River. The river commonly rises 3-5 feet each spring, but has risen much higher and caused a great deal of damage. The greatest flood on record occurred in 1929 when a flood stage of 11.81 feet was reached at the U.S. Geological Survey stream gaging station at Afton. It is possible for floods of even greater magnitude to occur in any given year.

Pollution of the Rock River is not a new problem, but only in recent years have people become alarmed about the condition of this important water resource. At the present time an intensive pollution survey of the entire Rock River watershed is being jointly undertaken by State and Federal agencies. As sources of pollution are located, corrective steps will be taken.

The Rock River fishery is composed of a wide variety of species and is best described as multiple. The major sport fishery is made up of white basst crappiest catfisht northern pike, walleye and largemouth bass. Northern pike and walleye fishing is usually good below the dams in early spring. A large carp and sucker population is also present. Other species which appear in varying numbers include yellow percht smallmouth basst bluegillt buffalot redhorset longnose gart sheepsheadt bowfin and forage species. Most of the wetland along the river is associated with tributary streams and the description of these areas is included with the tributary description. There are about 100 additional acres of shallow marsh wet- land bordering the river. Waterfowl, predominantly woodduckst bluewing teal and American coott are commonly observed along the river during migratory periods.

Access to the Rock River is available from 14 bridge crossings and several roads which parallel and end at the river. In addition, there are eight boat launching ramps available for public use (indicated on Figure 9). There are also three marinas which rent boats and have launching facilities. There are 6 county parks which have a total river frontage of 2 miles.

Surface Acres -1,302, Miles = 35-.8, Gradient -1.2 feet per mile.

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

Date  1970

Author   Surface Water Inventory Of Wisconsin

Rock River, Rock River - Milton Watershed (LR04) Fish and Aquatic LifeRock River, Rock River - Milton Watershed (LR04) RecreationRock River, Rock River - Milton Watershed (LR04) Fish Consumption

General Condition

Rock River Traxler Park Skier's Platform Beach was assessed for the 2018 listing cycle; E. coli data sample data were clearly below the 2018 WisCALM listing thresholds for the Recreation use. This beach was meeting this designated use and was not considered impaired.

Date  2017

Author  Ashley Beranek

General Condition

The Rock River is a warmwater sport fishery with expectations for fish communities and ambient water quality consistent with large warm rivers. The current condition reflects excess ambient total phosphorus and total suspended solids in the river's water column.

Date  2011

Author   Aquatic Biologist

Impaired Waters

The Rock River was assessed during the 2018 listing cycle; total phosphorus sample data overwhelmingly exceeded the 2018 WisCALM listing thresholds for the Fish and Aquatic Life use. Available biological data did not indicate impairment (i.e. no macroinvertebrate or fish Index of Biotic Integrity (IBI) scored in the "poor" condition category) and chloride data clearly met 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

The Rock River (Ashippun River to Sinnissippi Lake outlet) was assessed during the 2018 listing cycle; total phosphorus overwhelmingly exceeded the 2018 WisCALM listing thresholds for the Fish and Aquatic Life use. This water was not meeting this designated use and was considered impaired.

Date  2017

Author  Amanda Smith

Impaired Waters

The Rock River (Rock River Power & Light dam in Watertown to confluence with the Ashippun River) 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 not meeting this designated use and was considered impaired.

Date  2017

Author  Amanda Smith

Impaired Waters

The Rock River (Sinnissippi Lake inlet to confluence of South Branch and East Branch in Horicon Marsh) was assessed during the 2018 listing cycle; total phosphorus sample data overwhelmingly exceeded the 2018 WisCALM listing thresholds for the Fish and Aquatic Life use. This water was not meeting this designated use and was considered impaired.


Date  2017

Author  Amanda Smith

Impaired Waters

The 2018 assessments of the Rock River (miles 171.08-183.45) showed continued impairment by phosphorus; new total phosphorus sample data exceeded the 2018 WisCALM listing criteria for the Fish and Aquatic Life use. However, no biological data (i.e. no macroinvertebrate or fish Index of Biotic Integrity (IBI) scores) were available to assess biological impairment. Based on the most updated information, no change in the existing impaired waters listing was needed.

Date  2017

Author  Ashley Beranek

Impaired Waters

There are many lakes, rivers or streams in the Rock River Basin that are included on the 303(d) List. This effort is focused on those waters that are impaired by either excessive sediment, high phosphorus concentrations, or both sediment and phosphorus (see Table 1). These pollutants cause impacts to waterways which include low dissolved oxygen concentrations, degraded habitat, and excessive turbidity. All of these problems result in harm to fish and aquatic life, water quality, recreation and even navigation. Everyone who lives or recreates in the Rock River basin will benefit from the improved water quality that will result from reduced sediment and phosphorus.

Date  2011

Author   Aquatic Biologist

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 Implementatoin
Rock River Recovery is the official name of the Rock River Basin TMDL Implementation process. Here you will find information to answer most questions about the Rock River TMDL including Development of TMDLs, TMDL Sector Teams, Implementation Planning, and Restoration Projects.
Sewer Service Area Planning
The City of Watertown completed a Smart Growth Comprehensive Master Plan (hereafter referred to as the Comprehensive Plan) in August 2000 and a Wastewater Facilities Plan in September 2000. This Sanitary Sewer Service Area Plan is intended to complement these previous planning efforts and provide a framework for guiding future development in the area. The Plan takes into account the technical, environmental and growth projections of the City in establishing the sewer service area.
Sewer Service Area Planning
The City of Janesville water quality plan, or sewer service area plan, is the official citywide water quality management plan for the City of Janesville and its four surrounding townships Harmony, Janesville, Rock, and La Prairie
Sewer Service Area Planning
The 2030 Beloit Area Water Quality Management Plan will provide a policy framework and set of guidelines to enforce the federal, state and local water quality programs in the City of Beloit, Town of Beloit and surrounding the area.

Recommendations

All communities in the Middle Rock River Watershed could further protect the Rock River by enacting and enforcing construction site erosion control and stormwater management ordinances, improving enforcement of existing construction site erosion control provisions, and acquiring parkland and natural areas adjacent the river and along tributaries of the river.

Date  2011

Author   Aquatic Biologist

Standards Details

The Rock River is listed as impaired due to narrative water quality criteria exceedances that result in eutophication, excess algal growth, turbid conditions, and reductions in fish and aquatic life uses. These problems are caused by excess phosphorus in surface waters and excess sediment from runoff and soil erosion, which degrade conditions for aquatic life.

Date  2011

Author   Aquatic Biologist

Management Plans

Management plans for the Rock River are being developed through the 2011 Total Maximum Daily Load Analysis for the Basin, as well as through subsequent planning and implementation strategies stemming from this work.

Date  2011

Author   Aquatic Biologist

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

Extensive monitoring and subsequent water quality modeling on the Rock River has taken place over the past few years leading up to the development of the total maximum daily load analysis. Long-term monitoring stations for DNR and at the federal level for USGS are located throughout the river.

Date  2011

Author   Aquatic Biologist

Watershed Characteristics

Rock River is located in the Rock River - Milton watershed which is 48.76 mi². Land use in the watershed is primarily agricultural (57%), suburban (18%) and a mix of forest (15%) and other uses (10%). This watershed has 31.74 stream miles, 123.56 lake acres and 290.20 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.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

Rock River Traxler Park Skier's Platform Beach, Rock River's natural community is not yet identified 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.