Fish and Aquatic Life
Devils Lake is a seepage lake in Devils Lake State Park. The lake is a popular recreation area and has a diverse sport fishery. The lake can support a two-story brown trout fishery. Six feet below the thermocline, the water still has enough oxygen to support a population of brown trout. Devils Lake is oligotrophic and usually has excellent water clarity. The lake is designated an outstanding resource water (ORW). Problems in the lake are due to high levels of phosphorus, the prevalence of an invasive exotic plant species, and the presence of mercury in the water column. A fish consumption advisory exists on the lake for walleye due to the levels of mercury found in the fish tissue samples. The sources of the mercury are unknown, but may be naturally occurring or come from airborne deposition. Core sampling of bottom sediments in 1987 yielded little conclusive information. In addition, beds of Eurasian milfoil, an undesirable exotic plant species, have become problematic on the lake. High levels of phosphorus have also been attributed to this and other problems in the lake ecosystem. One of these other problems is the presence of the parasite that causes swimmer itch. It is suspected that this parasite lives on snails that feed on the algae that grows in the lake because of the phosphorus. Starting in 2002 and running for 10 to 15 years, the Department will be conducting a bottom draw program every September through December to remove oxygen depleted water, which isthe direct result of high phosphorus levels, from the bottom of the lake through a hypolimnetic withdrawal. This project will hopefully do 5 main things:
1. Decrease periphyton growth on rocks
2. Decrease filamentous algae growth in lake shallows
3. Decrease snails that feed on these algae and therefore, decrease the number of hosts
for the parasite that causes Swimmer Itch.
4. Improve aquatic habitat for the lake'd brown trout population that is currently in
danger as a result of the low oxygen levels
5. Decrease the amount of time that mercury in bottom sediments can methalize and bioaccumulate in aquatic species.
Since the lake is fed mostly by groundwater seeps and through precipitation, this withdrawal of water does have the potential to lower the lakes level. This problems has been addressed and it is planned to re-charge the lake through the re-connection of a previously diverted stream. This project is funded through a Lake Planning and a Lake Protection Grant. There is a USGS gauging station on Devil's Lake.
Author Aquatic Biologist
Devils Lake is a seepage lake in Devils Lake State Park. The lake is a popular recreation
area and has a diverse sport fishery. Devils Lake is oligotrophic and usually has
excellent water clarity (Betz, 1990). The lake has been nominated for addition to the
state's antidegradation list as an outstanding resource water. The lake is perceived by
some to have declini~lg water quality and the lake did experience some algal blooms
during the mid 1980s (Betz, 1990, Lange, 1992). The state park wastewater
treatment facility was a suspected source of pollution to the lake, but no conclusive
evidence supported this belief (WDNR, 1991). A recent study of historic data shows
no clear trend toward declining water quality, although changes in biological
communities may have led to, or be related to water quality decline (Lillie, 1986). Beds
of Eurasian milfoil, an undesirable exotic plant species, have declirled in size recently
Lange, 1992) . A fish consumption advisory exists on the lake for walleye taken on the
lake due to the levels of mercury found in walleye tissue samples. The sources of the
mercury are unlrnown, but may be naturally occurring or come from airborne
deposition. Core sampling of bottom sediments in 1987 yielded little conclusive
information (Marshall, 1985).
Author Surface Water Inventory Of Wisconsin
Devils Lake (WBIC 980900) was assessed during the 2018 listing cycle; total phosphorus sample data nearly exceeded the 2018 WisCALM listing thresholds for the Fish and Aquatic Life and Recreation uses. Chlorophyll-a sample data clearly met the thresholds. Chloride data did not exceed the thresholds. This water was meeting its designated uses and not considered impaired.
Author Amanda Smith
Devil's Lake State Park North Shore Beach and South Shore Beach were assessed for the 2018 listing cycle; E. coli data sample data were clearly below the 2018 WisCALM listing thresholds for the Recreation use. These beaches were meeting this designated use and were not considered impaired.
Author Ashley Beranek
Devils Lake (980900) was assessed during the 2016 listing cycle; chlorophyll sample data were clearly below 2016 WisCALM listing thresholds for the Recreation use and Fish and Aquatic Life use. This water was also assessed for chlorides and sample data were clearly below 2016 WisCALM chronic and acute listing criteria for the Fish and Aquatic Life use. This water is meeting these designated uses and is not considered impaired.
Author Ashley Beranek
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'.
Protect Headwaters and Springs
Improve the pumping system that both removes nutrients to restore water quality and helps manage lake levels to protect shoreline, buildings, parking lots, and downstream homes and communities during floods.
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|
|980900||Devils Lake||10005451||Devils Lake||7/1/1980||9/11/2016||Map||Data|
|980900||Devils Lake||573188||Devils Lake - Devils Lake State Park Beach North Shore||7/19/2001||9/13/2017||Map||Data|
Devils Lake is located in the Lower Baraboo River watershed which is 150.54 mi². Land use in the watershed is primarily agricultural (42%), forest (26%) and a mix of wetland (18%) and other uses (15%). This watershed has 268.11 stream miles, 904.18 lake acres and 15,973.85 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.