Oregon Br, Badfish Creek Watershed (LR07)
Oregon Br, Badfish Creek Watershed (LR07)
Oregon Branch (800700)
4.74 Miles
0 - 4.74
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 Natural Communities.
Cool-Cold Mainstem, Cool-Warm Mainstem
Year Last Monitored
This is the most recent date of monitoring data stored in SWIMS. Additional surveys for fish and habitat may be available subsequent to this date.
This river is impaired
PCBs Contaminated Fish Tissue
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.
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.
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.

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.
Streams capable of supporting small populations of forage fish or tolerant macro-invertebrates that are tolerant of organic pollution. Typically limited due to naturally poor water quality or habitat deficiencies. Representative aquatic life communities associated with these waters generally require warm temperatures and concentrations of dissolved oxygen that remain above 3 mg/L.
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.
Streams capable of supporting small populations of forage fish or tolerant macro-invertebrates that are tolerant of organic pollution. Typically limited due to naturally poor water quality or habitat deficiencies. Representative aquatic life communities associated with these waters generally require warm temperatures and concentrations of dissolved oxygen that remain above 3 mg/L.
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.
Streams capable of supporting small populations of forage fish or tolerant macro-invertebrates that are tolerant of organic pollution. Typically limited due to naturally poor water quality or habitat deficiencies. Representative aquatic life communities associated with these waters generally require warm temperatures and concentrations of dissolved oxygen that remain above 3 mg/L.


Rock River Water Quality Management Plan, Lower Rock River Appendix. WT-668-2002. South Central Region, WDNR.

Oregon Branch originates in the village of Oregon and flows 10 miles southeasterly to its confluence with Rutland Branch to form Badfish Creek. Prior to the 1920s the stream was considered a marginal trout water, but habitat was destroyed by stream ditching and straightening. Stream mile 4 to 6 is classified as limited aquatic life in NR 104. The creek receives a noncontinuous discharge from the Oregon wastewater treatment plant. About one mile east of Oregon, the stream meets the MMSD effluent ditch and flow increases from about 2 cubic feet per second (cfs) to about 56 cfs, in part from the effluent and in part from base flow contributions. The Oregon Branch from the MMSD effluent ditch downstream to its confluence with Rutland Branch (stream mile 0 to 4 ) is classified as a limited forage fishery.

The Oregon treatment plant, located at the headwaters of the Oregon Branch, discharges to the creek, which flows a rate of Q7,10 at .01 cfs, which is a noncontinuous flow. With the village of Oregon growing rapidly, the plant recently completed an upgrade that will handle increasing influent flows. The facility plan recommended upgrading plant capacity, sludge storage, and phosphorus removal (DCRPC, 1995).

Recent proposed urban development in and near the village of Oregon will increase stormwater and flood flows through the village to Oregon Branch, unless the village develops and implements an adequate stormwater management plan for new development.

A triennial standards review for this stream reach was conducted in 1990. In the 1980s tolerant and very tolerant insects dominated the stream, with a larger percentage of species intolerant to organic pollution found in the creek over time. The fishery is dominated by central mudminnows, brook sticklebacks, and fathead minnows based on fish shocking in 1983. The triennial review found MMSD's advanced nitrification process at its Nine Springs Plant, and thus its discharge to the Oregon Branch, substantially improved in water quality. This upgrade resulted in reduced ammonia concentrations and higher dissolved oxygen levels in Badfish Creek, which has translated into greater diversity and abundance of fish species and improved macroinvertebrate (insect) populations based on Hilsenhoff Biotic Index scores (Marshall, 1990). Incremental improvements in Oregon Branch's water quality are also documented by sampling conducted in 1990 (DCRPC, 1995) for dissolved oxygen, ammonia-nitrogen, total phosphorus and BOD5.

Date  2002

Author   Aquatic Biologist

Historical Description

Oregon Branch -TSN. RI0E, Sec. 16, Surface acres= 18.2, Length = 10 miles, Stream order = I, Gradient = 8.2 ft/mile,
Base discharge = 42.9 cfs.
Originating in the Village of Oregon, the Oregon Branch serves as a drainage ditch that carries effluent from the Oregon and Madison Metropolitan Sewerage District treatment plants to Badflsh Creek, which in turn flows into the Yahara River. It was channelized approximately 30 years ago and its substrate now consists of muck over rubble (Dane Cty. Reg. Plann. Comm. 1979a). Oregon Branch drains 30 square miles of primarily agricultural land. The natural base flow before the addition of sewage plant effluent was approximately 2 cfs. It is now measured at 42.9 cfs. Conductivity, alkalinIty, and chloride readings are very high and overall the stream has been radically altered by the influx of sewage effluent. Oregon Branch has a low dIversity of fish and macroinvertebrates since only the most tolerant species can exist (Dane Cty. Reg. Plann. Comm. 1979a). Access is available in Oregon and at one other road crossIng. Fish species: common carp, fathead minnow, white sucker, black bullhead, and brook stickleback.

From: Day, Elizabeth A.; Grzebieniak, Gayle P.; Osterby, Kurt M.; and Brynildson, Clifford L., 1985. Lake and Stream Classification Project. Surface Water Resources of Dane County. Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Madison, WI

Date  1985

Author   Surface Water Inventory Of Wisconsin

Oregon Br, Badfish Creek Watershed (LR07) Fish and Aquatic LifeOregon Br, Badfish Creek Watershed (LR07) RecreationOregon Br, Badfish Creek Watershed (LR07) Fish Consumption

Impaired Waters

Oregon Branch (WBIC 800700) was listed for PCBs in fish tissue in 2012. This water was assessed during the 2018 listing cycle; new biological (fish Index of Biotic Integrity (IBI) scores) and temperature sample data were clearly below the 2018 WisCALM listing thresholds for the Fish and Aquatic Life use. Based on the most updated information, no change in the existing impaired waters listing was needed.

Date  2017

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 2018. See also the 'monitoring and projects' tab.



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.

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 or implementation of a Total Maximum Daily Load analysis, a Nine Key Element Plan, or other restoration work, education and outreach and more. If specific recommendations exist for this water, they will be displayed below online.


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

Oregon Br is located in the Badfish Creek watershed which is 84.21 miĀ². Land use in the watershed is primarily agricultural (64.30%), grassland (12.70%) and a mix of wetland (7.80%) and other uses (15.20%). This watershed has 78.94 stream miles, 217.98 lake acres and 3,799.54 wetland acres.

Nonpoint Source Characteristics

This watershed is ranked Medium 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

Oregon Branch is considered a Cool-Cold Mainstem, Cool-Warm Mainstem under the state's Natural Community Determinations.

Natural communities (stream and lake natural communities) represent model resultsand DNR staff valiation processes that confirm or update predicted conditions based on flow and temperature modeling from historic and current landscape features and related variables. Predicated flow and temperatures for waters are associated predicated fish assemblages (communities). Biologists evaluate the model results against current survey data to determine if the modeled results are corect and whether biological indicators show water quaity degradation. This analysis is a core component of the state's resource management framework. 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.

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