Red Cedar River, Brill and Red Cedar Rivers Watershed (LC10)
Red Cedar River, Brill and Red Cedar Rivers Watershed (LC10)
Red Cedar River (2063500)
5.77 Miles
89.88 - 95.65
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.
No Classification, Warm 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.
2018
Excellent
 
Barron
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.
No
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.
WWSF
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.
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.
WWSF
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.

Overview

The Red Cedar River originates in southwestern Sawyer County and flows south into the Chippewa River in southern Dunn County. It drains portions of seven counties: Barron, Chippewa, Dunn, Polk, Rusk, Sawyer, St. Croix and Washburn. The Red Cedar River and its tributaries drain eight of the 24 watersheds in the Basin. The Red Cedar drainage area makes up a third of the Lower Chippewa River Basin, nearly 1,900 square miles. Land use ranges from mostly forested in the north to predominantly agricultural in the south. The Red Cedar River drainage area is located in the North Central Hardwood Forest Ecoregion (Omernik and Gallant, 1988). This EPA ecoregion is characterized by nearly level to rolling glacial till plains and significant agricultural land use. Within this area there are approximately 255 streams with a total length of 1,302 mi. Of these 141 are unnamed creeks and ditches. The average gradient for the Red Cedar River is 4.6 ft/mi. The average discharge at Menomonie (94% of drainage area) is 1,235 cubic feet/sec. The Red Cedar River bottom is composed primarily of sand, gravel, and rubble with limited areas of boulder, bedrock, muck and silt. Land use in this sub-basin ranges from mostly agriculture (64%) in the south to predominately forest (27%) in the north. Red Cedar Lake, Rice Lake, Tainter Lake and Lake Menomin are large man-made impoundments on the Red Cedar River. The river also receives water via tributaries from other impoundments including Beaver Dam Lake, Long Lake, Bear Lake and Lake Chetek.

Water Quality: Documented water quality problems related to phosphorus include impoundment eutrophication and dissolved oxygen problems in heavily vegetated stream reaches. Tainter Lake and the Red Cedar River above Tainter Lake suffer from high levels of mercury in sport fish and are subject to consumption advisories.
Water quality problems related to phosphorus have been documented in the Red Cedar River system; impoundment eutrophication (Schreiber 1992; Dunn Co. LWCD, 1992) and dissolved oxygen depletion take place in heavily vegetated stream reaches (Borman and Schreiber 1992). While these problems were evaluated in detail only in Tainter Lake and the Red Cedar River below Rice Lake, they likely exist in other, similar environments elsewhere in the sub-basin.
The U.S Environmental Protection Agency provided funding for further evaluation of the frequency, extent and duration of these problems as well as an evaluation of the significance of point and nonpoint sources of phosphorus in the seven upper watersheds (LC05-LC11). The goal of the project was to develop an implementation plan for phosphorus control in the basin, based on site-specific impacts to waterbodies. Project stakeholders include local governments, municipalities, industries and water user groups.

Voss, Karen and Sarah Beaster. 2001. The State of the Lower Chippewa River Basin. PUBL-WT-554 2001. Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Madison, WI.

Date  2001

Author  Mark Hazuga

Red Cedar River, Brill and Red Cedar Rivers Watershed (LC10) Fish and Aquatic LifeRed Cedar River, Brill and Red Cedar Rivers Watershed (LC10) RecreationRed Cedar River, Brill and Red Cedar Rivers Watershed (LC10) Fish Consumption

General Condition

Red Cedar River (WBIC 2063500) from CTH W to Red Cedar Lake outlet was assessed during the 2018 listing cycle; new total phosphorus and biological (macroinvertebrate Index of Biotic Integrity (IBI) scores) sample data were clearly below the 2018 WisCALM listing thresholds for the Fish and Aquatic Life use. This water segment was meeting this designated use and was not considered impaired.

Date  2017

Author  Ashley Beranek

General Condition

Two large impoundments in ths watershed, Tainter Lake and Lake Menomin, greatly influence the water quality of the Red Cedar River. Detrimental effects include high chlorophyll levels, which contribute to daily dissolved oxygen fluctuations in the river.

In July 1988, dissolved oxygen data recorded at the village of Inrington, below Lake Menomin, showed fluctuations between 5.5 and 13.5 milligrams per liter (LaLiberte, 1993). Elevated water temperatures from the impoundments could also influence the lower Red Cedar River.

Increased nutrient levels in the lower stretch of the Red Cedar River have their origins well upstream of the lakes. In the summer of 1994, a sewer line ruptured in the Red Cedar River channel, resulting in the discharge of raw sewage to the river. Due to quick action by the city of Menomonie and the hgh flow of the river, the amount of spilled sewage did not affect water quality. There is always a possibility of sewer line breakage at river crossings. It is imperative that an emergency response plan be outlined for such situations. Beatrice Co. Swiss Miss Plant was recently recognized eff om. By switchng to different cleaning solutions, the by the WDNR for its pollution prevention plant reduced phosphorous concentrations in its effluent by 85 percent. This plant discharges its process wastes to the Menomonie wastewater treatment plant (Thon) . The amount of ammonia contributed by the Menomonie wastewater treatment plant has the potential to affect the fishery during low flows. Standards and policies for ammonia are under revision (LaLiberte 19%).

The extreme lower end of the Red Cedar River is part of the Dunville State Wildlife Area. Ths area extends along the northern shore of the Chippewa River upstream and downstream of the Red Cedar River into the Muddy and Elk Creeks Watershed (LC13) and the Eau Galle River Watershed (LCO3).

Date  1996

Author  Christopher Willger

General Condition

Numerous reports were received by area fisheries managers regarding the apparent disappearance of red-tailed shmers and other minnows in the Red Cedar River below Rice Lake in 1990 and 1992. A toxicity test conducted by the city of Rice Lake wastewater treatment plant during this period showed toxicity to fathead minnows from background river water, but not from treatment plant effluent. Fishery surveys conducted in 1993 indicated normal minnow populations (WDNR).

A 1992 WDNR report found that phosphorus loading from the Rice Lake wastewater treatment plant doubled the phosphorus concentration of the Red Cedar River during low flow conditions in the river.

High phosphorus concentrations in the river support heavy rooted aquatic plant growth, which was found to cause night time dissolved oxygen concentrations to fall below water quality standards at downstream sites. The city of Rice Lake operates an activated sludge wastewater treatment plant which discharges to the Red Cedar downstream of the dam that forms Rice Lake. The present permit requires that the city provide 180 days of sludge storage. The neM permit issuance will require phosphorus removal, as the plant discharges more than 150 ~ounds of phosphorus per month, which is the threshold level for providing removal under NR 217 Wis. Adm. Code.

Date  1996

Author  Christopher Willger

General Condition

A comprehensive survey of the Red Cedar River in this watershed, conducted from 1989 to 1990, revealed that the Chetek River, which drains into the Red Cedar River at the watershed boundary, carries a high nutrient and algae load. The impacts are visible in the Red Cedar River for some distance below the confluence. Extreme fluctuations of dissolved oxygen have been documented due to plant photosynthesis and respiration. Fluctuations of dissolved oxygen are potentially dangerous to fish and aquatic life. The river is fairly well buffered from immediate agricultural land use, although bank erosion is evident. A healthy forage, walleye and smallmouth bass fishery exists in ths portion of the Red Cedar River. It is likely that Tainter Lake walleye use the Red Cedar River for spawning because of quality riffle areas (Holzer) .

A study conducted to update estimates of the phosphorus entering Tainter Lake (LCO4) and determine the relative contribution of phosphorus from pollutant sources from the Red Cedar and Hay Rivers concluded that reducing the phosphorus input from significant point source discharges in the watershed would, alone, have minimal impact on water quality in Tainter Lake. If, however, a significant reduction in point source loading is combined with implementation of extensive controls of polluted runoff water quality in Tainter Lake would improve (Schreiber).

Recommendations from the phosphorus reduction study include developing a comprehensive watershed management plan to determine the feasibility and means of reducing the phosphorus load to Tainter Lake, establishing a phosphorus monitoring station, and verifying and rerunning the model used for Tainter Lake if more data becomes available.

Date  1996

Author  Christopher Willger

Impaired Waters

The 2018 assessments of the Red Cedar River (Tainter Lake inlet to Yellow River) showed continued impairment by phosphorus; new total phosphorus sample data exceeded the 2018 WisCALM listing criteria for the Fish and Aquatic Life use, however, 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 most updated information, no change in the existing impaired waters listing was needed.

Date  2017

Author  Ashley Beranek

Impaired Waters

The 2018 assessments of the Red Cedar River (First trib above Irving Creek to Menomin Dam) showed continued impairment by phosphorus; new total phosphorus sample data exceeded the 2018 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 the existing impaired waters listing was needed.

Date  2017

Author  Ashley Beranek

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

Reports

Recommendations

ATTAINS Implementation Initiated
Dunn County proposes to amend or create a shoreland zoning ordinance that complies with the requirements of NR 115, Wisconsin Administrative Code (as revised effective February 1, 2010) and retain existing regulations that exceed the water resource protections of NR 115 or are specific or unique to local needs.
Monitor to Evaluate Projects
DO should be assessed on segment 4 of the Red Cedar River to see if this segment has improved and should be removed from 303(d) list.
ATTAINS TMDL
Red Cedar River TMDL implementation project.
TMDL (USEPA) Approved
USEPA approval for the Red Cedar River TMDL
TMDL Development
Red Cedar River TMDL
Nine Key Element Plan
The TMDL recommends a 65 percent reduction in phosphorus inputs to the lakes.
ATTAINS Alternative Restoration Approach
A Plan for Water Quality Improvement in the Red Cedar River Nine Key Element Plan
Monitor Fish Tissue
2063500 name Red Cedar River TMDL ID 604 Start Mile 73.6 End Mile 78.51
Monitor Fish Tissue
2063500 name Red Cedar River TMDL ID 281 Start Mile 16.48 End Mile 18.8
Monitor Fish Tissue
2063500 name Red Cedar River TMDL ID 381 Start Mile 28.72 End Mile 73.6

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

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

Red Cedar River is located in the Brill and Red Cedar Rivers watershed which is 297.68 miĀ². Land use in the watershed is primarily forest (49.40%), agricultural (20.30%) and a mix of grassland (10.70%) and other uses (19.60%). This watershed has 264.90 stream miles, 6,282.34 lake acres and 15,832.05 wetland acres.

Nonpoint Source Characteristics

This watershed is ranked Medium for runoff impacts on streams, Medium 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

Red Cedar River is considered a No Classification, Warm 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.

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.

Fish Stocking
Fisheries & Habitat

The Red Cedar River fishery varies from upstream locations to downstream due to natural and or man made barriers. In total, the Red Cedar River Basin contains approximately 97 species of fish. Recent (Benike, 2000) and historic fisheries surveys (Fago, 1984) have documented a number of rare species downstream of Lake Menomin. The crystal darter and black buffalo are endangered species. The river and greater redhorse and blue sucker are threatened species. Species of special concern include the mud darter, american eel and lake sturgeon.

Upstream of Lake Tainter, the following rare species can be found (Fago, 1984 and Engel, 2000): Ozark minnow, pugnose, weed and redfin shiners, greater redhorse, least darter and an occasional lake sturgeon. Many species of game and panfish can be found in the Red Cedar River; however, the primary sport fishery is composed of walleye and smallmouth bass and to a lesser extent northern pike and panfish, such as crappies, white bass and rockbass. Walleye and smallmouth bass populations are the primary gamefish on the riverine portions of the Red Cedar River. From studies that have been collected (Engel, 2000 and Benike, 2000) the walleye and smallmouth bass fishery is more abundant in the riverine section upstream of Tainter Lake than the riverine section downstream from Lake Menomin. Other unique fish species such as channel catfish, sauger and shovelnose sturgeon can be found in the river downstream from Lake Menomin. Redhorse and suckers are the most abundant species found throughout the river system.

Voss, Karen and Sarah Beaster. 2001. The State of the Lower Chippewa River Basin. PUBL-WT-554 2001. Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Madison, WI.

Date  2001

Author   Aquatic Biologist

Fisheries & Habitat

A 20-mile segment of the Red Cedar River runs through the yellow River watershed. The Red
Cedar River supports a warm water sport fishery and is noted for its smallmouth bass fishery. It
also supports northern pike, walleye, and several species of panfish and minnows.
When a discharge to the Red Cedar River near Barron and Cameron was proposed, WDNR raised
questions about the effects of increased nutrient loadings to a river system that already supports
intensive aquatic ~lant growth. In 1989, a study looked at rooted aquatic plant growth above and
below a proposed discharge site. The proposed discharge never occurred, but the study documented
valuable information about rooted aquatic plant biomass and the effect on water quality.
According to the study, plant biomass in the river is moderately high and comparable to that found
in southern Wisconsin streams. The amount of plant growth appears to be dependent on stream
nutrient concentrations at most sites. The plant growth in the river reduces dissolved oxygen
concentrations during summer low-flow conditions. Respiration in the plant beds results in early
morning dissolved oxygen levels dropping to 2-3 milligrams per liter. Ths is considerably below
the water quality standard of 5 milligrams per liter (Borman and Schreiber, 1992). These study
conclusions ~rovide valuable baseline information for future water resource management decisions

Date  1996

Author   Aquatic Biologist

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