Mead Lake, South Fork Eau Claire River Watershed (LC16)
Mead Lake, South Fork Eau Claire River Watershed (LC16)
Mead Lake (2143900)
310.27 Acres
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.
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 impoundment is impaired
Low DO, Eutrophication, Degraded Habitat, Excess Algal Growth
Total Phosphorus, Sediment/Total Suspended Solids
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.
Shallow Lowland
Shallow lowland lake describes the depth and location of the lake in a watershed. These variables affect the lakes response to watershed variables.
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.


Mead Lake is a eutrophic soft-water impoundment of the South Fork of the Eau Claire River. The Mead Lake Club Limited received a lakes planning grant in 1991 to initiate in-lake water quality monitoring with the U.S. Geological Survey. USGS has been monitoring water quality since 1991 and will continue through 1995. Trophic State Index values for the lake have ranged from 38 to 71, indicating that the lake is highly eutrophic (USGS). Mead Lake and its watershed were selected for a ~riority lakes project due to begin in 1996. To help assess its potential success, it would be useful to assess landowner support for the project.

The Clark County Animal Waste Plan identified the Mead Lake Watershed as a high priority for animal waste management. The ~ l a n identified 17 animal waste management projects that needed funding for control of ~olluted runoff. Given the water quality data and the identified sources of pollutants, the Mead Lake watershed should be considered a high priority for controlling sources of polluted runoff (Clark County).

Mead Lake is under a fish consumption advisory for walleye 18 to 30 inches long. Other game fish and panfish did not contain levels above the mercury advisory level, although additional sampling of smaller walleye and all sizes of largemouth bass is recommended (Amrhein).

Date  1996

Author   Aquatic Biologist

Historical Description

Source: 1965, Surface Water Resources of Clark County Mead Lake T27N, R3W, S29

This is a soft water, drainage impoundment located on the south fork of the Eau Claire River. The dam has a 16-foot head and the flowage was created in 1951 by Clark County for recreational purposes. The dam and all the land around the impoundment are owned by the county, but lots have been leased to individuals. The slightly acid water has a light brown color and low transparency. Muskellunge, yellow walleye, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, bluegill, pumpkinseed, white, sucker and northern redhorse make up the fishery. Within a few years after the flowage was created, carp became a problem and in 1961 a chemical eradication project was conducted within the flowage area and in the 46 miles of streams entering the flowage. While the project was successful, a 100 percent kill of carp was not accomplished. The flowage now provides excellent fishing. In the past, the impoundment has been subject to periodic winterkill conditions. There is a public swimming beach, one public boat landing, and a park area including campgrounds. There are also 112 dwellings and a Boy Scout camp on the flowage. Migrating waterfowl visit the flowage in the fall and provide hunting.

Surface Acres = 324, S.D.F. = 3.05, Known Maximum Depth = 20 feet

Date  1965

Author   Surface Water Inventory Of Wisconsin

Mead Lake, South Fork Eau Claire River Watershed (LC16) Fish and Aquatic LifeMead Lake, South Fork Eau Claire River Watershed (LC16) RecreationMead Lake, South Fork Eau Claire River Watershed (LC16) Fish Consumption

Impaired Waters

Mead Lake was recently evaluated during the ten-year period of 2009 through 2018 for results that were reported to the USEPA for the 2020 Clean Water Act condition report. The waterbody is considered impaired, or in poor condition for designated uses which include the quality of fish and aquatic life, recreational use, and public health and welfare (fish consumption and related). Pollutants or problems encountered during sampling (impairments) are determined based on water quality standards outlined in Wisconsin 2020 Consolidated Assessment and Listing Methodology (WisCALM). Assessment results show water conditions that are potentially harmful for Aquatic Life use due to values for total phosphorus and chlorophyll that fall into the range expected for an aquatic community in poor health, therefore this water is listed as impaired.

Assessment results during the 2020 listing cycle show continued impairment based on total phosphorus and chlorophyll levels too high for healthy aquatic communities, like plants, fish, and bugs, according to 2020 WisCALM levels. This water has been listed as impaired since 1998 for total phosphorus and total suspended solids. Based on the most updated information, eutrophication was proposed as an additional impairment in 2020.

Date  2019

Author  Ashley Beranek

Impaired Waters

Mead Lake (2143900) was placed on the impaired waters list for total phosphorus and sediment/total suspended solids in 1998. In 2008 the US EPA approved a TMDL for Mead Lake. The 2016 assessments confirmed an impairment by total phosphorus and identified a new impairment of excess algal growth. This water is considered impaired for recreation and fish and aquatic life uses.

Date  2016

Author  Aaron Larson


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.



TMDL (USEPA) Approved
TMDL Development for Mead Lake in Clark County, WI. The South Fork Eau Claire River is the primary source of surface water inflow to Mead Lake. The lake was placed on the Wisconsin 303(d) impaired waters list in 1998 due to sediment and phosphorus. In 2008, the 303(d) list was updated to reflect that the pollutants of sediment and phosphorus are leading to impairments of degraded habitat, pH criteria exceedances, and excess algal growth in summer which result in limited body contact recreational use. The goal of this TMDL is to reduce phosphorus and sediment loadings to Mead Lake to address, pH criteria exceedances, decrease algal blooms in summer, and address degraded habitat so Mead Lake can be improved for recreational purposes.
TMDL Development
TMDL Development for Mead Lake in Clark County, WI. Mead Lake is highly eutrophic and exhibits excessive concentrations of phosphorus and chlorophyll (a measure of algal densities) in its surface waters during the summer months (USACE 2005). Sediment and phosphorus enters the lake via the South Fork Eau Claire River, from nonpoint sources of pollution.

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

Mead Lake is located in the South Fork Eau Claire River watershed which is 229.49 miĀ². Land use in the watershed is primarily forest (56%), agricultural (22.80%) and a mix of wetland (12%) and other uses (9.20%). This watershed has 421.59 stream miles, 307.67 lake acres and 23,719.61 wetland acres.

Nonpoint Source Characteristics

This watershed is ranked Low for runoff impacts on streams, High for runoff impacts on lakes and Medium for runoff impacts on groundwater and therefore has an overall rank of Medium. This value can be used in ranking the watershed or individual waterbodies for grant funding under state and county programs.This water is ranked High Lake for individual Impoundments based on runoff problems and the likelihood of success from project implementation.

Natural Community

Mead Lake is considered a Reservoir 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.

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