Yellow River, Upper Yellow (Wood Co.) River Watershed (CW05)
Yellow River, Upper Yellow (Wood Co.) River Watershed (CW05)
Yellow River (1352800)
8.60 Miles
74.48 - 83.08
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.
Coldwater, Cool-Cold Headwater, Macroinvertebrate
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 river is impaired
High Phosphorus Levels
Total Phosphorus
Clark, Wood
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.
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.
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.
FAL Warmwater
Fish and Aquatic Life Warmwater - waters that do not have a specific designated (codified use) but which are have documented scientific support to ascertain indicating that the water is a warm fishable, swimmable water.


The Yellow River is classified as a warm water sport fishery. Pirate Perch, which are on the state watch species list, inhabit the Yellow River. The village of Necedah and O'Dell Bay Sanitary District discharge their effluent to the Yellow River. Fish contaminant monitoring should be conducted above and below Necedah. This river is presently listed on the Federal 303(d) Impaired Waterbodies list.

Date  2002

Author   Aquatic Biologist


The Upper Yellow River is classified a warm water sport fishery. Habitat conditions are impacted by “flashy” stream flows. Stream flows rise rapidly (flashy) as a result of runoff quickly delivered to the streams from poorly drained soils and landuse practices in the watershed. Channel scouring, streambank erosion and deposition of sediment and nutrients from agricultural lands can degrade instream-habitat. The city of Pittsville WWTP discharges its effluent into the Upper Yellow River. The Upper Yellow River is presently listed on the Federal 303(d) Impaired Waterbodies list for high levels of bacteria.

Date  2002

Author   Aquatic Biologist

Historical Description

Yellow River T25N, R1E, S1,Surface Acres = 5.5, Miles = 3 .O, Gradient = 5.3 feet per mile.

Yellow River is a light brown colored, medium hard water stream that flows southeast into Wood County and then into Juneau County where it joins the Wisconsin River in Castle Rock Flowage. Except for the lower three miles, the river was intermittent in Clark County during 1964. Its fishery is primarily panfish and forage species. Carp are present. About 85 percent of the watershed area is cleared land. Furbearers are present. There is no public land adjoining the river. Access is possible from several road crossings, but during 1964 only one passed over the flowing portion of the stream.

From: Klick, Thomas A. and C.W. Threinen, 1965. Surface Water Resources of Clark County: Lake and Stream Classification Project. Wisconsin Conservation Department, Madison, WI.

Date  1965

Author   Aquatic Biologist


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.
TMDL Monitoring
The Purpose of this project is to conduct sampling that is required to complete a TMDL on the Dexter Lake watershed. The previous two years were used to collect enough data to list Dexter Lake on the 303D list with nutrients as an impairment.
Monitor or Propose 303(d) Listing
Nine Key Element Plan
Upper Yellow River PWS Plan - Nine Key Element Plan - The Upper Yellow River Priority Watershed Project plan assesses the nonpoint sources of pollution in the Upper Yellow River Watershed and guides the implementation of nonpoint source control measures. These control measures are needed to meet specific water resource objectives for the Upper Yellow River and its tributaries. Nonpoint sources of pollutants most commonly found in this watershed include: polluted runoff from barnyards and feedlots, sediment from cropland erosion, sediment from eroding streambanks, and runoff from winterspread manure. The purpose of this project is to reduce the amount of pollutants originating from nonpoint sources that reach surface water and groundwater within the Upper Yellow River Priority Watershed Project area.
Monitor Baseline Survey
Fish and Aquatic Habitat Staff should conduct baseline non-wadable monitoring within the Lower Yellow River

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

Yellow River is located in the Upper Yellow (Wood Co.) River watershed which is 212.95 miĀ². Land use in the watershed is primarily agricultural (42%), forest (22.40%) and a mix of wetland (17%) and other uses (18.60%). This watershed has stream miles, lake acres and 22,147.27 wetland acres.

Nonpoint Source Characteristics

This watershed is ranked High 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

Yellow River is considered a Coldwater, Cool-Cold Headwater, Macroinvertebrate 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.

Cool (Cold-Transition) Headwaters are small, usually perennial streams with cold to cool summer temperatures. Coldwater fishes are common to uncommon (<10 per 100 m), transitional fishes are abundant to common, and warm water fishes are uncommon to absent. Headwater species are abundant to common, mainstem species are common to absent, and river species are absent.