Fish and Aquatic Life
The East Branch of the Pecatonica River has its headwaters between Barneveld and Blue Mounds. Both villages discharge wastewater to the East Branch. The river flows thirty two miles down to the town of Blanchardville and is navigable for most of its length. The river has four miles of classified trout waters, but the majority of the river in this watershed is a warm water sport fishery. The gradient is fairly low in comparison to other streams in the area provides holes and areas of deep, slow moving water. Walleye, smallmouth bass, channel catfish, and northern pike are found in the river. Walleye stocking appears to have been successful with larger numbers of walleyes being caught by anglers (Sims, 2001).
The rapid runoff of precipitation in this predominantly agricultural watershed causes problems with regard to habitat, turbidity, and nutrient load. Woody debris presents a problem to navigation. Additionally, the dam at Blanchardville impedes fish movement upstream.
Author Aquatic Biologist
The headwaters of the East Branch are in this watershed. The river above the Barneveld wastewater treatment plant outfall is classified as Class II trout waters (WDNR, 1980). The stream at the discharge site has been described as having good habitat with deep pools and long riffles with some sedimentation. The site was also reported to have good water quality (Schlesser, 198829). We know little about water quality below the Barneveld outfall. Sedimentation is a problem at some spots in the stream and there are exposed eroding banks and cattle grazing on the banks at some locations (WDNR, 1992-931).
Author Aquatic Biologist
With its beginnings in Iowa County, the East Branch of the Pecatonica River drains approximately 469 square miles in Wisconsin. Within Lafayette County it drains approximately 190 square miles for 40.4 percent of its total watershed area. Most of the uplands in the'watershed are tillable cropland. Much qf the floodplain is covered with fresh meadow and meadow pasture with occasional shallow marsh and well drained pasture. Tributaries which enter the stream directly include eleven named and six unnamed streams. Possible sources of pollution in the direct drainage area include two cheese factories and one dairy. Treated effluent enters from municipal sewage plants located at Blanchardville and Argyle. All sources of pollution are monitored by the Division of Resource Development and the Division of Health. Lakes within the direct drainage area are Yellowstone Lake and six oxbow lakes which are discussed elsewhere in this report. High water levels and flooding are common occurrences for this stream during the spring thaw and after periods of heavy rainfall.
Stream banks are fairly stable being well covered by perennial vegetation which restricts soil erosion. Nevertheless, signs of heavy bank erosion are common throughout its length. This is understandable since the normal volume of flow is sometimes increased 60 fold at certain times during the year. From the Iowa County line down to its junction with the West Branch, the sport fishery consists of panfish, smallmouth bass, channel and flathead catfish and walleyes. Also included in the fishery are carp, white suckers, quillback, buffalo, redhorse, and the usual forage fishes. The farm ponds within the watershed which are able to support a fishery:, and are well-managed, also provide a good panfish and largemouth bass fishery. Those which have good springs may even support trout. Wetlands within the basin are generally restricted to the lands adjoining the mainstream and particularly the floodplain. In these areas there is suitable habitat for furbearers and nesting puddle ducks. The stream itself provides food and resting spots for migrants during the spring and fall. Muskrats are common and beaver are present in the basin. Deer, fox, rabbits, squirrels, pheasants, ruffed grouse, Hungarian partridge and quail are common on the uplands of the general watershed. Public lands within the watershed include the 2,217 acre state-owned Yellowstone Lake Wildlife Area, an eight acre city park in Blanchardville, a one acre wayside, a 20 acre park, and a seven acre campground in Argyle. Almost seven miles of the river flows through the Argyle Public Hunting and Fishing Grounds which consists of 2,796 acres of land leased by the Division of Conservation.
Access points along the stream with boat landing faciities are the city park in Blanchardville, a semiprivate landing above the dam in Blanchardville and one in Argyle. An unimproved public access for light craft also exists at the wayside in Argyle. Three town, one county and three state road bridges also provide some access. Access plans by towns for the future include expansion of existing facilities in Blanchardville, and possible enlargement of the Argyle City Park to include an access. Also, the acquisition is planned by the county of the area around the Black Hawk monument on Bloody Lake, which is located on the East Branch of the Pecatonica River one mile north of Woodford, and could conceivably provide another access.
East Branch of the Pecatonica River, T1N, R5E, Sections 1-13, Surface acres = 120.7, Miles = 19.5 (within county), Gradient = 6.2 feet per mile, Total alkalinity =250 mg/l, Volume of flow = 139 cfs. (Average for 26 years).
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 Aquatic Biologist
The East Branch Pecatonica River (miles 54.74-59.81) 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.
Author Ashley Beranek
The 2018 assessments of the East Branch Pecatonica River (miles 0-55.02) showed continued impairment by phosphorus; new total phosphorus sample data exceeded the 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 the existing impaired waters listing was needed.
Author Ashley Beranek
East Branch Pecatonica River (897800) from the mouth to Gordon Creek was placed on the impaired waters list for total phosphorus in 2012 and the portion from Gordon Creek to Williams-Barneveld Creek was added for total phosphorus in 2014. The 2016 assessments showed continued impairment by phosphorus; total phosphorus sample data exceeded 2016 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.
Author Aaron Larson
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'.
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 Watershed (Status,Sources,Impairments)
Lower East Branch Pecatonica Watershed assessment (surveyed in 07/08)
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|
|897800||East Branch Pecatonica River||10032525||East Branch Pecatonica River at Hwy. K below confluence with Williams-Barneveld Creek||Map||Data|
|897800||East Branch Pecatonica River||10031342||East Branch Pecatonica||Map||Data|
|897800||East Branch Pecatonica River||10012831||East Branch Pecatonica downstream of Prairie Grove Road||7/26/2011||7/26/2011||Map||Data|
|897800||East Branch Pecatonica River||253094||East Branch Pecatonica River - Above Wlms. Brnvld. Cr||5/2/1980||11/8/2010||Map||Data|
|897800||East Branch Pecatonica River||10014253||E. Br. Pecatonica River -.75 Miles Up Stream Of Prairie Grove Rd||Map||Data|
|897800||East Branch Pecatonica River||10021754||East Branch Pecatonica River upstream of Langberry Road (Ebp08)||7/20/2010||11/8/2010||Map||Data|
|897800||East Branch Pecatonica River||10031338||East Branch Pecatonica River -Natural Area||Map||Data|
|897800||East Branch Pecatonica River||10037967||East Branch Pecatonica River at Trial crossing on Nature Conservancy||Map||Data|
East Branch Pecatonica River is located in the Upper East Branch Pecatonica River watershed which is 140.18 mi². Land use in the watershed is primarily agricultural (72%), forest (18%) and a mix of suburban (7%) and other uses (4%). This watershed has 395.65 stream miles, 61.72 lake acres and 834.33 wetland acres.
Nonpoint Source Characteristics
This watershed is ranked Not Ranked 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.