Fish and Aquatic Life
Elk Creek is a 22-mile tributary of the Trempealeau River and is designated as a Class III trout stream for its entire length. Land use in the Elk Creek Watershed is dominated by agriculture and, in 1979, it was one of five watersheds initially selected under the Nonpoint Source Abatement Program. The project was successful in reducing bacteria levels and organic pollution in some streams but trout habitat and populations did not significantly improve immediately following the completion of the project (Source: 2002 WQM Plan).
Author Daniel Helsel
This stream is degraded by animal waste from lack of in-stream fishery habitat, barnyard runoff, pasturing livestock on the streambanks and cropland erosion. There are stream reaches where braided channels have developed due to the stream eroding behind poorly-maintained riprap projects which were installed as part of the Bugle Lake restoration project.
Author Lisa Helmuth
The Elk Creek (Above Bugle Lake to headwaters) was assessed during the 2018 listing cycle; 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 2018 WisCALM listing thresholds for the Fish and Aquatic Life use. This water was not meeting this designated use and was considered impaired. No listing change was needed to this already impaired water.
Author Amanda Smith
Elk Creek (1782500) was placed on the impaired waters list for total phosphorus in 2012. The 2016 assessments showed continued impairment by phosphorus; total phosphorus sample data overwhelmingly exceeded 2016 WisCALM listing thresholds 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). Based on the most updated information, no change in existing impaired waters listing is needed.
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 2016 . See also 'monitoring' and 'projects'.
Water Quality Planning
Project: Elk Creek (BT03) Watershed Planning
The use of DNR and federal grants should be used to assess the conditions of the wetland within the watershed following the implementation of the 2011 Federal EPA EMAP study.
Habitat Restoration - Instream
Opportunities to reconnect streams with their floodplain-wetland riparian areas during in-stream habitat work
should be pursued.
Citizen-Based Stream Monitoring
Expansion of a citizen based stream monitoring program within the Elk Creek watershed is recommended.
Lakes Protection Grant
A citizen volunteer lake monitoring program, discontinued in 1989, should be reinitiated at Bugle Lake.
Monitor Baseline Survey
Future monitoring efforts should target long-term data records for temperature of cold and cool water stream
in anticipation of climate change responses, in addition to diagnostic monitoring. This work would help establish baseline stream nutrient concentrations and potential relationships to climate change and future nutrient
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
|WBIC||Official Waterbody Name||Station ID||Station Name||Earliest Fieldwork Date||Latest Fieldwork Date||View Station||View Data|
|1782500||Elk Creek||623008||Elk Creek - Independence Wwtp||Map||Data|
|1782500||Elk Creek||10032654||Elk Creek at Hwys. 93/121 Independence||Map||Data|
|1782500||Elk Creek||623053||Elk Creek - Rr Brg Ab Independenc Stp||Map||Data|
|1782500||Elk Creek||623051||Elk Creek - 200 Ft Below Stp Outfall||Map||Data|
Elk Creek is located in the Elk Creek watershed which is 112.95 mi². Land use in the watershed is primarily forest (41.90%), agricultural (28.70%) and a mix of grassland (23.30%) and other uses (6.20%). This watershed has 284.80 stream miles, 47.13 lake acres and 3,310.85 wetland acres.
Nonpoint Source Characteristics
This watershed is ranked Not Available for runoff impacts on streams, Not Available 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.