The Mineral Point and Sudan Branches Watershed lies in southwestern Iowa County and dips into extreme northern Lafayette County. The watershed is dominated by agriculture with scattered woodlots and grasslands.
The major water quality problems in the watershed are from agricultural nonpoint source pollution. Additionally, mining was a major industry in the Mineral Point area. Waste piles that remain from lead, zinc, and copper mining as well as runoff from mines has degraded water quality, especially for Brewery Creek. See the discussion of Brewery Creek for more details on efforts to rehabilitate this stream.
Population, Land Use
There are two municipalities in the watershed: Linden and Mineral Point. In addition to the discharges from these two municipalities, Bloomfield Manor, an assisted living facility, also discharges to surface water in the watershed. The population of this watershed is not expected to grow significantly (less than 2%) over the next 20 years.
The Southwest Savanna Ecological Landscape is located in the far southwestern part of the state. It is characterized by deeply dissected topography, unglaciated for the last 2.4 million years, with broad open hilltops and river valleys, and steep wooded slopes. The climate is favorable for agriculture but the steep slopes limit it to the hilltops and valley bottoms. Soils are underlain with calcareous bedrock. Soils on hilltops are silty loams, sometimes of shallow depth over exposed bedrock and stony red clay subsoil. Some valley soils are alluvial sands, loams, and peats. Some hilltops are almost treeless due to the thin soil while others have a deep silt loam cap.
Historic vegetation consisted of tall prairie grasses and forbs with oak savannas and some wooded slopes of oak. Almost three-quarters of the current vegetation is agricultural crops with lesser amounts of grasslands, barrens, and urban areas. The major forest types are oak-hickory and maple-basswood. High-quality prairie remnants occur on rocky hilltops and slopes that are not farmed. Some prairie pastures and oak savannas still exist. The grassland areas harbor many rare grassland birds, invertebrates, and other grassland species. Relict stands of pine occur on bedrock outcroppings along some stream systems.
River and Stream QualityAll Waters in Watershed
Rivers and streams in this watershed cover over 170 miles and range from small intermittent tributaries to larger rivers including portions of the Pecatonica River. Two streams/rivers in the watershed are identified as impaired (Brewery Creek and a tributary to Brewery Creek), and two rivers (Rock Branch and Sudan Branch) are Class II Trout Waters, indicating some natural reproduction and seasonal stocking.
Date 2010 Watershed Trout StreamsWatershed Outstanding & Exceptional Resources
Lakes and Impoundments
Ludden Lake is a 58 acre impoundment that was created in 1963 by constructing a dam on the Mineral Point Branch by the Mineral Hills Development Company. This company eventually dissolved and ownership of the lake and dam was taken up by the Ludden Lake District and Dam Commission which were formed in 1993. A new boat ramp and parking area completed in 1997 has improved access to the lake. That same year, northern pike were stocked into the lake. Smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, walleye, black crappie, bluegill, and carp have been found in the lake.
Little is known about the water quality although algal blooms are significant in the warm months, likely due to nutrient enrichment from the surrounding agricultural landscape (Amrhein, 2001). Emergent aquatic vegetation from the upper end of the lake was eradicated, thus releasing a large sediment and nutrient load into the lake (Sims, pers. comm.) Property owners around the lake have formed a lake district as a step towards addressing water quality and lake issues. See details of the Ludden Lake EQIP project on page x of the Pecatonica River narrative.
Impaired WatersList of Impaired Waters
Monitoring & Projects
Projects including grants, restoration work and studies shown below have occurred in this watershed. Click the links below to read through the text. While these are not an exhaustive list of activities, they provide insight into the management activities happening in this watershed.
In 1992-1993, a major Brewery Creek rehabilitation project took place which involved moving four roaster piles to a central containment area and re-routing the stream away from this disposal site.
Metals concentrations in the water column decreased by 80% and the stream no longer was rust colored (Ibid). While Brewery Creek responded favorably to this action, most of the fauna was still dominated by a few tolerant species. In 1998, the department listed Brewery Creek on its list of impaired, 303(d) waters. In 1998 and 1999, water samples from Brewery Creek were tested in laboratory biomonitoring assays using the cladaceran Ceriodaphnia dubia and fathead minnow (Pimephales promelas). Tests showed chronic toxicity in C. dubia (mean number of young significantly reduced) while other acute and chronic tests showed no significant difference between the test water and the control.
Recently, a monitoring sudy was conducted to look at the fish and macroinvertebrate communities and water column metals concentrations 16 years after the project to determine if the stream continued to respond to the action. In general, although the water column concentrations of metals continue to indicate impacts from historic mining in the area, the biota of Brewery Creek seem to have rebounded to some extent. The number and diversity of fish increased after the remediation project and has shown additional improvement in this most recent survey. Data from only 1 macroinvertebrate sample was available at this writing. It indicated low impact from organic loading, but the lack of species diversity could either be an indication of the poor habitat and watershed characteristics (channelized system, urban and agricultural nonpoint source pollution) or remnant toxicity.
Temperature monitoring should be conducted to determine the thermal regime of this system and to more fully evaluate the natural attainable use for this stream. Finding brown trout, along with evidence of natural reproduction is pleasantly surprising. Continued monitoring is needed to determine if this is a spurious event, or if it marks a trend in overall improvement of the stream.
Runoff evaluation and best management practice installation to reduce degration from agricultural and urbanizing runoff sources.
Continued evaluation monitoring of Brewery Creek and its tributary.
Monitor biology on WBIC: 931000
Conduct biological (mIBI or fIBI) monitoring on Unnamed, WBIC: 931000, AU:3991126
Confirm FCA: IW listed from pre-year 2000 FCA data
928700 name Trib To Brewery Creek TMDL ID 58 Start Mile 0 End Mile 2.25
Unnamed Trib to Rock Branch Biology fIBI
Only assessment result is "poor". Further monitoring recommended.
AU: 6776325; Station ID: 10043690
Unnamed Trib to Mineral Point Branch Biology
Only assessment result is "poor". Furthe monitoring recommended.
AU: 5701020; Station ID: 10043685
Mineral Point Branch [HUC12] 2015
Watershed History Note
The City of Mineral Point is located in the Mineral Point and Sudan Branches Watershed. The first European settlement at Mineral Point began in 1827. During the following year, large quantities of galena, or lead ore, were discovered around the settlement in shallow deposits. Lead had many uses at the time, and settlers began to flock to the region hoping to make a living by extracting the easily accessible mineral. By 1829, the region's growing population led to the creation of Iowa County, which included all of the lead mining lands within the borders of what was then known as the Michigan Territory.
Mineral Point remained an important lead mining center during the 1840s. The largest group of immigrants came from Cornwall in the United Kingdom, which had been a mining center for centuries. Experienced Cornish miners were attracted to the lead mining opportunities in Mineral Point, and by 1845 roughly half of the town's population had Cornish ancestry.
Mining activity in Mineral Point began to decline in the following years. In 1848, the same year that Wisconsin achieved statehood, gold was discovered in California. As lead mining declined in Mineral Point, zinc mining and smelting became important new industries. Zinc ore was discovered with increasing frequency near the bottoms of old lead mines. The Mineral Point Zinc Company was founded in 1882, and by 1891 it was operating the largest zinc oxide works in the United States at Mineral Point. Zinc mining and processing continued on a large scale until the 1920s.
Today the city's historical character has made it a regional tourist destination. The original dwellings of some of the early Cornish immigrants have been restored at the Pendarvis Historic Site.