Blue River, Blue River Watershed (LW09)
Blue River, Blue River Watershed (LW09)
Blue River (1211000)
2.44 Miles
29.60 - 32.04
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 Headwater, Cool-Cold 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.
2011
Good
 
Iowa
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.
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 Blue River rises in western Iowa County and flows west into Grant County before turning
north and flowing to the Wisconsin River. The lower 18 miles of the river support a warm
water sport fishery. Approximately 13.8 miles of the stream above the warm water sport
fishery is a Class II trout fishery with some natural reproduction of brown trout. The trout
waters reach of the Blue River is considered an exceptional resource water, (ERW), and is
considered a high priority for nonpoint source pollution reduction. A cursory habitat
evaluation was done on a tributary to the Blue River in the summer of 2001. This survey
found fair habitat and overall problems resulted from erosion and nonpoint source pollution
from the watershed.
The intensive agriculture in the watershed is a limiting factor. Barnyards and grazing may be
causing in-stream habitat and water quality problems in the reach above the state fishery area.
Eroding streambanks are also a problem in spots, and silt deposits in some pools and riffles
are causing in-stream habitat problems. The headwaters of the Blue River have some
problems with feedlots and are on the list of "impaired waters" due to nonpoint source
pollution. The Blue River receives discharges from the villages of Blue River and Montfort.
The state has easements along much of the river in the headwater area of the river.
Citizen monitors have been actively monitoring the Blue River since June 2000. A second
monitoring site on the river was added in August 2001. Volunteers regularly monitor the
turbidity, temperature, dissolved oxygen, and flow of the river. Additional monitoring items
include an assessment of the biological aquatic bug community and the in-stream habitat of
the river. To see the data that these monitors have collected, please visit their website at
http://members.tripod.com/nohrchapter/monitor_home.htm.

From: Ripp, Coreen, Koperski, Cindy and Folstad, Jason. 2002. The State of the Lower Wisconsin River Basin. PUBL WT-559-2002. Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Madison, WI.

Date  2002

Author  Cynthia Koperski

Historical Description

The Blue River rises in western Iowa County and Rows west into Grant County before turning north and flowing to the Wisconsin River. About 13.8 miles of the stream are Class II trout waters (WDNR. 1980). The trout waters reach of the Blue are considered exceptional resource waters. Barnyards and grazing may be causing in-stream habitat and water quality problems in the reach above the state fishery area (Kerr,WDNR,1991, Schlesser 1991-1992). Eroding streambanks are also a problems in spots, and silt deposits in some pools and riffles are causing in-stream habitat problems (Kerr, 1991).

Date  1994

Author   Surface Water Inventory Of Wisconsin

Historical Description

From: Smith, Tom D., and Ball, Joseph R., Lake and Stream Classification Project. Surface Water Resources of Grant County, Department of Natural Resources, 1972.Surface Area = 30.31 acres, Length = 25.0 miles, Gradient = 8 ft./mile, Flow = 51.5 c.f.s.

A spring- and seepage-fed stream beginning in Iowa County as "Foreman Creek" and flowing southwest to empty into the Wisconsin River northeast of the village of Blue River. The regional land form of this water- shed is early maturity or late youth with narrow ridges, remnants of flat uplands, and steep, narrow valleys. The floodplain is one-fourth to one mile in width along the main section of the river. The terrain resembles the rimrock country in Montana and Wyoming with evergreen-capped outcrops overlooking much of the stream.

The Blue River also has quality trout fishing as well as spectacular scenery. Numerous springs and spring-fed tributaries contribute to the stream assuring favorable temperatures and a stable water supply. Eight of these tributaries are classified as trout streams with Fennimore Fork rated as the best trout water in Grant County. The upper 3.5 miles of the Blue River is considered trout water. This could be extended downstream to include everything above the mouth of Big Rock Branch. Brown and rainbow trout dominat~ the fishery in this section of stream. Brook trout are also present. A good catfish and smallmouth bass fishery exists in the lower reaches near the Village of Blue River. Trout reproduction is low due to large rubble and rapid runoff. Fishing pressure is heavy during much of the season. The Blue River P.L. 566 Watershed Project was organized in order to reduce some of the flash flooding and heavy bank erosion within the watershed. Eight
or nine single-purpose structures and one multi-purpose structure are scheduled to be constructed. Onlyone of these structures is planned on the main stem of the Blue River.

The villages of Montfort and Blue River are potential pollution sources. Game assets include muskrats, a few migratory waterfowl, mink, beaver, raccoon, squirrels, red and gray fox, deer, and ruffed grouse. A total 672 acres of shallow marsh, fresh meadow and timber swamp wetland adjoin the lower reaches. Public access is provided by the Wisconsin River, ten bridge crossings and 1.75 miles of stream easement. Fifteen farm dwellings are found along the banks.

Date  1972

Author   Surface Water Inventory Of Wisconsin

Historical Description

Blue River (Foreman Creek) - Mouth location T6N R1E Section 18 -6, Surface area = 5.8 acres, Length = 4.3'miles, Gradient = 40.0 feet per mile, Total alkalinity = 266.0 mg/l, Volume of flow = 5.3 cfs.

Flowing northwesterly into Grant County and then northerly into the Wisconsin River, this spring fed and moderately swift flowing stream possesses a well-rounded sport fishery. Although flooding and erosion problems are common to its upper sections, primarily because of intensive farming practices, brown and natural brook trout populations are present. Smallmouth bass, catfish and northern pike are present near its mouth in Grant County. Forage fish species found in the upper sections include sculpins, blacknose dace, redbelly dace, common shiner, fantail and johnny darters, blunthose minnows and white suckers.

From: Piening, Ronald and Threinen, C.W., 1968. Lake and Stream Classification Project. Surface Water Resources of Iowa County, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Madison, WI.

Date  1968

Author   Surface Water Inventory Of Wisconsin

Blue River, Blue River Watershed (LW09) Fish and Aquatic LifeBlue River, Blue River Watershed (LW09) RecreationBlue River, Blue River Watershed (LW09) Fish Consumption

General Condition

The Blue River (Biba Rd. to the Grant-Iowa county line and the Grant-Iowa county line to the easterly tributary in S17, T6N R1E ) 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 meeting this designated use and was not considered impaired.

Date  2017

Author  Amanda Smith

Impaired Waters

The Blue River (Easterly trib in S17 T6N R1E to headwaters) was assessed during the 2018 listing cycle; available biological data indicated impairment (i.e. at least onemacroinvertebrate 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. No listing change was needed to this already impaired water.


Date  2017

Author  Amanda Smith

Impaired Waters

The Blue River (Mouth to Biba Rd.) was assessed during the 2018 listing cycle; total phosphorus sample data clearly 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. No listing change was needed to this already impaired water.


Date  2017

Author  Amanda Smith

Impaired Waters

Blue River (1211000) its mouth to Biba Rd. was placed on the impaired waters list for total phosphorus in 2012. The 2016 assessments showed continued impairment by phosphorus; total phosphorus sample data exceed 2016 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 existing impaired waters listing is needed.

Date  2015

Author  Aaron Larson

Impaired Waters

Blue River (1211000), from Unnamed Stream (1214100) to its headwaters, was placed on the impaired waters list for sediment/total suspended solids in 1998.

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

Monitor Fish Community
AU 13271, poo fIBI, Station 10021311
Monitor or Propose 303(d) Listing
Monitor listed impaired waters for water quality changes over time.
Monitor to Evaluate Projects
Monitoring to evaluate the outcome of the River Management Grant awarded to the Trout Unlimited group.
Monitor Baseline Survey
Baseline monitoring on the Blue River is needed.

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

Blue River is located in the Blue River watershed which is 216.19 miĀ². Land use in the watershed is primarily agricultural (51%), forest (37%) and a mix of suburban (5%) and other uses (6%). This watershed has 513.46 stream miles, 416.83 lake acres and 5,825.06 wetland acres.

Nonpoint Source Characteristics

This watershed is ranked High 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

Blue River is considered a Cool-Cold Headwater, Cool-Cold 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.

Cool (Cold-Transition) Headwaters are small, usually perennial streams with cold to cool summer temperatures. Coldwater fishes are common to uncommon (<10 per 100 m), transitional fishes are abundant to common, and warm water fishes are uncommon to absent. Headwater species are abundant to common, mainstem species are common to absent, and river species are absent.

More Interactive Maps
Maps of Watershed