Lowery Creek, Otter and Morrey Creeks Watershed (LW11)
Lowery Creek, Otter and Morrey Creeks Watershed (LW11)
Lowery Creek (1241400)
1.01 Miles
0 - 1.01
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 Headwater, Cool-Cold Mainstem, Impounded Flowing Water, No Classification
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.
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.
Fish and Aquatic Life - waters that do not have a specific use designation subcategory assigned but which are considered fishable, swimmable waters.
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 a warm waterdependent sport fishery. Representative aquatic life communities associated with these waters generally require cool or warm temperatures and concentrations of dissolved oxygen that do not drop below 5 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.
Default FAL
Fish and Aquatic Life - Default Waters do not have a specific use designation subcategory but are considered fishable, swimmable waters.


Lowery Creek is a tributary to the Wisconsin River west of Tower Hill State Park. The creek supports a warm water sport fishery for its lower 1.5 miles and is considered a Class II trout stream for much of the rest of its length. The creek has problems with streambank pasturing and hydrologic modification.

Date  2002

Author  Cynthia Koperski

Historical Description

Lowery Creek (VanBlarcum, Jones) - Mouth location T8N R4E Section 30 -5, Surface area = 5.0 acres, length = 6.5 miles, Gradient = 27.7 feet per mile, Total alkalinity = 233.0 mg/l, Volume of flow = 1.5 cfs.
Lowery Creek is a small spring fed trout stream which flows northerly and empties directly into the Wisconsin River. Although it has a lower- than-average gradient, severe flooding and resultant bank erosion are serious problems. Every year the lands in the watershed are farmed less which results in more stable water levels. Presently, about 60 percent is still farmed. Its lower section is impounded to form Upper and Lower Taliesin Lakes which are private, being located in the Frank Lloyd Wright estate of Taliesin. They are discussed in the lake section. The stream sport fishery consists of qrown trout which have been shown to reproduce naturally in its upper sections. They are stocked annually to supplement the fishery. A seining survey showed that forage fishes which are present include white suckers; brassy, stoneroller and bluntnose minnows; creek chubs and johnny darters. Game assets consist of muskrats and ducks in the lower sections. There are no public lands on this stream. Presently, there is access from seven road crossings.

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

Lowery Creek, Otter and Morrey Creeks Watershed (LW11) Fish and Aquatic LifeLowery Creek, Otter and Morrey Creeks Watershed (LW11) RecreationLowery Creek, Otter and Morrey Creeks Watershed (LW11) Fish Consumption


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.



Partnership Project
DALC will conduct a project to initiate a vision for the watershed to promote sound ag practices, land protection & management & stream restoration to benefit stream protection & water quality. Project goals:1) Establish vision, goals & strategies for a watershed vision to improve water quality & other resources in the next 3-5 years. 2) Develop strategic plan based on an impact mapping process. 3) Facilitate partnership meetings to establish goals related to water quality, aesthetic & cultural resources. 4) Outline activities for the next 3-5 years that lead partners toward goals, to include prioritizing, scheduling & budgeting specific activities. 5) Invite watershed residents, landowners, & stakeholders to an ag field trip demonstrating sound ag practices to protect water quality. 6) Hold partnership event that provides watershed info & a vision & strategic plan via the Impact Mapping process. 7) Conduct meetings to discuss land protection. Deliverables are as follows: 1) Include a vision, goals, objectives in a strategic plan to maximize impacts towards goals developed for the watershed to promotes water quality, & protects biological richness. 2) Outline activities for next 3-5 years to include prioritizing, scheduling & budgeting for specific activities. 3)Press release & invitations will be sent to stakeholders, & at least 15 people will attend an ag field trip to develop interest in implementing BMP to improve water quality. 4) Press release & invitations will be sent to stakeholders, & at least 20 people will attend a meeting to learn about resources, issues & water quality in the watershed. 5) Focus group & one-on-one outreach to provide information about land protection. 6) Complete one easement project in the watershed by end of grant period. 6) Results of planning process will be shared with landowners, town boards, & other stakeholders through a press release, newsletter articles, a town board meeting, & watershed wide stakeholder meeting.

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

Lowery Creek is located in the Otter and Morrey Creeks watershed which is 198.69 mi². Land use in the watershed is primarily forest (53.60%), grassland (24.60%) and a mix of agricultural (14.10%) and other uses (7.70%). This watershed has 437.57 stream miles, 351.55 lake acres and 5,785.74 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.

Natural Community

Lowery Creek is considered a Cool-Cold Headwater, Cool-Cold Mainstem, Impounded Flowing Water, No Classification 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.

This classification includes waterbodies created by dams (mill ponds, reservoirs, flowages, and other impoundments) with a residence time of 14 days or more (under summer (June – Sept) mean low flow conditions with a 1 in 10 year recurrence interval (US EPA 2000)). Many natural lakes also have dams or water level control structures. However, to be included in the Impounded Flowing Waters category, the dam or water level control structure, must account for more than half of a waterbody’s maximum depth. Impoundments with a residence time of less than 14 days should be covered under the rivers and stream assessment methodology process.

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.

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