Rock Creek, Lowes and Rock Creeks Watershed (LC24)
Rock Creek, Lowes and Rock Creeks Watershed (LC24)
Rock Creek (2119000)
2.54 Miles
0 - 2.54
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-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.
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.
Class III Trout
Streams capable of supporting a seasonal coldwater sport fishery and which may be managed as coldwater streams.
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.
Cold (Class II Trout)
Streams supporting a cold water sport fishery, or serving as a spawning area for salmonids and other cold water fish species. Representative aquatic life communities, associated with these waters, generally require cold temperatures and concentrations of dissolved oxygen that remain above 6 mg/L through natural reproduction and selective propagation. Since these waters are capable of supporting natural reproduction, a minimum dissolved oxygen concentration of 7 mg/L is required during times of active spawning and support of early life stages of newly-hatched fish.
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.


Sedimentation from past and present surrounding landuse and possible extirpation of native cold water species. The dam that forms Rock Falls Pond acts as a barrier that would prevent salmonid species from migrating upstream. Fish management recommended declassifying this segment as trout water due to warm temperatures. Temperature data from 2000 suggests cold water is found upstream from this reach.

Date  2011

Author  Mark Hazuga

Rock Creek, Lowes and Rock Creeks Watershed (LC24) Fish and Aquatic LifeRock Creek, Lowes and Rock Creeks Watershed (LC24) RecreationRock Creek, Lowes and Rock Creeks Watershed (LC24) Fish Consumption

General Condition

Rock Creek (miles 0-2.54) was assessed during the 2018 listing cycle; new biological (fish 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 was meeting this designated use and was not considered impaired.

Date  2017

Author  Ashley Beranek

General Condition

Sedimentation from past and present surrounding landuse and possible extirpation of native cold water species. The dam that forms Rock Falls Pond acts as a barrier that would prevent salmonid species from migrating upstream. Fish management recommended declassifying this segment as trout water due to warm temperatures. Temperature data from 2000 suggests cold water is found upstream from this reach. Fish and habitat surveys were completed at six stations and continuous temperature monitoring was completed at four stations in 2000 throughout Rock Creek Cold water IBI scores were poor to very poor and habitat ratings were fair to good. Continuous monitoring indicated that temperatures were adequate for cold water species, especially in the mid to upper reaches. Fish surveys were completed in 2006 at three sites above the Rock Falls Pond. One brown trout was found at the station just above the pond and no other cold water species were collected at the remaining sites.

Date  2008

Author  Mark Hazuga

Impaired Waters

Rock Creek 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 that fall into the range expected for an aquatic community in poor health, therefore this water is listed as impaired.

Rock Creek [Mouth to Rock Falls Pond (mile 0-2.54)]: This segment is attaining its designated use and is not considered impaired.

Rock Creek [Rock Falls Pond to CTH H (mile 2.8-4.64)]: This segment has been listed as impaired since 2002 for Total Suspended Solids and no change is needed.

Rock Creek [CTH H to Pepin/Eau Claire county line (mile 4.64-9.59)]: Assessment results during the 2020 listing cycle show total phosphorus levels too high for healthy aquatic communities like plants, fish, and bugs, according to 2020 WisCALM standards. Fish sample data did not indicate impairment (i.e., no fish Index of Biotic Integrity scored in the poor condition category). Based on the most updated information, this water was proposed for the impaired waters list in 2020.

Rock Creek [Pepin/Eau Claire county line to headwaters (mile 9.58-16.16)]: This segment is attaining its designated use and is not considered impaired.

Date  2019

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.


Standards Details

This water, from the mouth to STH 85 (2.4 miles) is a Class II Troutwatwer; and the portion in Eau Claire County is a Class III. (4.0 miles).

Date  2002

Author   Aquatic Biologist

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

Rock Creek is located in the Lowes and Rock Creeks watershed which is 219.17 mi². Land use in the watershed is primarily agricultural (38.80%), forest (34.30%) and a mix of grassland (13.50%) and other uses (13.40%). This watershed has 372.30 stream miles, 317.07 lake acres and 12,231.21 wetland acres.

Nonpoint Source Characteristics

This watershed is ranked Low 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

Rock Creek is considered a 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.

More Interactive Maps