Bark River, Bark River,Scuppernong River Watershed (LR13)
Bark River, Bark River,Scuppernong River Watershed (LR13)
Bark River (813500)
13.49 Miles
12.46 - 25.95
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.
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.
Aquatic Life
Waters that support fish and aquatic life communities (healthy biological communities).
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.
Aquatic Life
Waters that support fish and aquatic life communities (healthy biological communities).
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.


Rock River Water Quality Management Plan, Lower Rock River Appendix. WT-668-2002. South Central Region, WDNR.

Bark River The Bark River originates in Bark Lake in southern Washington County and flows southwesterly through Waukesha and Jefferson counties, joining the Rock River at Fort Atkinson. Stream water quality in the Bark River is generally poor, with conditions slightly better in the river's headwaters. There are five lakes and three impoundments on the river; three of these lakes are directly influenced by the river.

The Bark River is classified as a warm water sport fishery but is only partially meeting that use, primarily due to urban and rural polluted runoff entering the river and its tributaries. Most of the urban runoff pollution occurs in Waukesha County, where rapid development of urban and suburban “pockets” occurs along and between its many lakes.

The now-abandoned Hartland wastewater treatment plant discharged to the river upstream of Nagawicka Lake. Due to poor operation, it was identified as a major source of conventional pollutants to the river, which led to poor water quality. The old facility was replaced by the Delafield-Hartland wastewater treatment plant in 1980. A 1983 post-abandonment study indicates improved in-stream water quality conditions with reductions in ammonia, total and soluble phosphorus, biochemical oxygen demand loading, fecal coliform and streptococcus bacteria, in-stream sludge deposits, and plant biomass.

The Jefferson County portion of this river is a meandering, turbid, low-gradient stream with local flooding problems. The fishery consists of northern pike, channel catfish, panfish, and rough fish. Water quality has been degraded by polluted runoff from barnyards and farm fields and from hydrologic modifications such as ditching and straightening of tributary streams. Wetland drainage has also affected water quality. Significant wetlands exist adjacent to the Bark River in Jefferson County and some support spawning of game fish. A large state wildlife area at Prince’s Point offers a variety of recreational activities.

Date  2002

Author   Aquatic Biologist

Bark River, Bark River,Scuppernong River Watershed (LR13) Fish and Aquatic LifeBark River, Bark River,Scuppernong River Watershed (LR13) RecreationBark River, Bark River,Scuppernong River Watershed (LR13) Fish Consumption

General Condition

The Bark River (WBIC 813500) from the NW corner of Bark River Parkway to its headwaters was assessed during the 2018 listing cycle; new total phosphorus and 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

Impaired Waters

Bark River (813500) from mouth at Rock River to Scuppernong Creek was assessed during the 2016 listing cycle; total phosphorus sample data exceed 2016 WisCALM listing criteria for the Fish and Aquatic Life use, however, available biological data do not indicate impairment (i.e. no macroinvertebrate or fish Index of Biotic Integrity (IBI) scored in the "poor" condition category).

Date  2015

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.



Citizen-Based Stream Monitoring
Collect chemical, physical, and/or biological water quality data to assess the current overall stream health. The data can inform management decisions and may be used to identify impaired waters for biennial lists.
Citizen-Based Stream Monitoring
Collect chemical, physical, and/or biological water quality data to assess the current overall stream health. The data can inform management decisions and may be used to identify impaired waters for biennial lists.
Citizen-Based Stream Monitoring
Collect chemical, physical, and/or biological water quality data to assess the current overall stream health. The data can inform management decisions and may be used to identify impaired waters for biennial lists.
Best Management Practices, Implement
The City of Delafield will implement best practices described in Wisconsin's 2014-2017 Healthy Lakes Implementation Plan on Nagawicka Lake. Practices include: 350 ft2 native plantings, rain gardens, and diversion practices on 3 properties, including the City\2019s Graham Street demonstration site. The best practices require a contract to remain in effect for 10 years and must include minimum operation and maintenance requirements and data collection as described in grant condition #17.
Habitat Restoration - Shoreland
Practices include: 350 ft2 native plantings, rain gardens, and diversion practices on 3 properties.
Aquatic Plant Monitoring or Survey
Informational Meetings
Monitor Water Quality or Sediment
More data collect, continuous monitoring, biology not showing impairment. Exceedances were largely during drought year. AU: 11744; ID: 10030237
Restore Wetlands
Restore Wetlands
Restore Wetlands
Restore Wetlands
Restore Wetlands
Restore Wetlands
Restore Wetlands
Restore Wetlands
Monitor or Propose 303(d) Listing
Monthly collection, deployment, and downloading of continuous DO recording data sondes in July, August, and September. Monthly sampling in July, August, and September Collection and mailings of samples Development of TMDL by June 30, 2007.
Monitor Water Quality or Sediment
New data showed an additional month (July 2018) with over 10% days exceeding criteria. Dam Repair works was being completed during 2017-2018 so data does not reflect typical conditions. Flow changes occurred during repair
Monitor Water Quality or Sediment
Monitor TP for impairment assessment. Miles 0 - 12.46 and 35 - 41 are listed for TP. For miles 12.46 - 35 there are only 3 samples from 2005.
TMDL (USEPA) Approved
Bark River TMDL Approved

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

Bark River is located in the Bark River watershed which is 185.84 miĀ². Land use in the watershed is primarily agricultural (29.90%), wetland (22.40%) and a mix of forest (15.20%) and other uses (32.50%). This watershed has 265.69 stream miles, 3,499.26 lake acres and 22,145.94 wetland acres.

Nonpoint Source Characteristics

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

Bark River is considered a Warm Mainstem under the state's Natural Community Determinations.

Natural communities (stream and lake natural communities) represent model results and 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.