0 - 29.82
Warm Mainstem, Macroinvertebrate, No Classification, Coldwater, Large River
High Phosphorus Levels, Degraded Biological Community
Fish and Aquatic Life
The river supports a warm water fishery along its entire length. Agricultural NPS pollution limits the river from achieving its full potential as a warm water fishery.
A diverse wetlands complex is associated with the river along its lower reach. These wetlands have extremely high wildlife value and are used heavily by nesting and migrating waterfowl. A large portion of the wetlands are included in the U.S.Fish and Wildlife Service Upper Mississippi Wildlife Refuge. These wetlands have been identified as having a very high sedimentation rate which continually degrades the quality and benefits of the wetlands.
Author Aquatic Biologist
Buffalo River from its mouth at Mississippi River to Harvey Creek (miles 0 to 29.82) was evaluated every two-year cycle from 2012 to 2022; phosphorus was identified as too high in the 2012 cycle. Elevated phosphorus was confirmed in several following cycles.
Buffalo River from Harvey Creek to Buffalo-Trempealeau county line (miles 29.82 to 42.36) was evaluated every two-year cycle from 2012 to 2018; phosphorus was identified as too high in the 2012 cycle. Elevated phosphorus was confirmed in several following cycles.
Buffalo River from Strum Lake inlet to the forks in Osseo (miles 54.47 to 67.56) was listed for phosphorus in the 2014 cycle.
Buffalo River from Buffalo-Trempealeau county line to Strum Lake (West /downstream of Strum Lake) (miles 42.37 to 53.76) was evaluated for phosphorus and/or biology every two years between 2014 and 2022. Phosphorus levels were found to be too high, but fish communities were in good health.
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.
Wastewater Monitoring or Management
The following communities should complete a facility plan for an upgrade of the existing WWTP.
Mindoro Sanitary District
City of Alma Center
Wastewater Monitoring or Management
The City of Osseo should complete the upgrade to their WWTP.
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
|WBIC||Official Waterbody Name||Station ID||Station Name||Earliest Fieldwork Date||Latest Fieldwork Date||View Station||View Data|
|1813900||Buffalo River||063012||Buffalo River at Cth J||Map||Data|
|1813900||Buffalo River||063079||Buffalo River - Near Tell WI||5/20/2003||1/1/2015||Map||Data|
|1813900||Buffalo River||10011446||Buffalo River - Buffalo River Cth J To Cth Kk Ibi/Get||Map||Data|
|1813900||Buffalo River||063009||Buffalo River at Sth 88||Map||Data|
|1813900||Buffalo River||063010||Buffalo River at Cth B Ab Elk Crk||6/21/2007||1/1/2015||Map||Data|
|1813900||Buffalo River||063032||Buffalo River - Nw1/4 Of Nw1/4 Sec.16||4/24/1980||10/27/1980||Map||Data|
|1813900||Buffalo River||063013||Buffalo River at Cth Kk||Map||Data|
|1813900||Buffalo River||063011||Buffalo River at Sth 37||3/14/2002||9/12/2006||Map||Data|
|1813900||Buffalo River||10012040||Buffalo River - Sth35ibi||Map||Data|
|1813900||Buffalo River||10052197||Buffalo River upstream CTH F at first US tributary ||Map||Data|
Buffalo River is located in the Lower Buffalo River watershed which is 275.43 mi². Land use in the watershed is primarily forest (41.70%), agricultural (30.90%) and a mix of grassland (16.60%) and other uses (10.80%). This watershed has 637.77 stream miles, 890.60 lake acres and 9,906.82 wetland acres.
Nonpoint Source Characteristics
This watershed is ranked High for runoff impacts on streams, Not Available 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.
Buffalo River is considered a Warm Mainstem, Macroinvertebrate, No Classification, Coldwater, Large River 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.
Warm Mainstem waters are moderate-to-large but still wadeable perennial streams with relatively warm summer temperatures. Coldwater fishes are absent, transitional fishes are common to uncommon, and warm water fishes are abundant to common. Headwater species are common to absent, mainstem species are abundant to common, and river species are common to absent.