Strum Lake Beach, Upper Buffalo River Watershed (BT08)
Strum Lake Beach, Upper Buffalo River Watershed (BT08)
Strum Lake Beach (1825100)
0.03 Miles
0 - 0.03
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.
Impounded Flowing Water
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 inland beach is impaired
Recreational Restrictions - Pathogens
E. coli
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.


Crystal Lake, in Strum, is a 45 acre impoundment of the Buffalo River with a watershed of approximately 52,000 acres. The Upper Buffalo River Watershed (BT08) map in this plan shows its location. Crystal lake was created in 1937 and covered roughly 80 acres with a volume of 330 acre ft. Fifty years of sedimentation have reduced the lake's volume to less than 120 acre ft.

In 1980, WDNR staff conducted a lake rehabilitation feasibility study (WDNR, 1982) in response to complaints over diminished recreational opportunities in Crystal Lake. Sedimentation, rough fish, turbidity and periodic algal blooms were degrading the lake. The study revealed the following:

·Maximum depth in the millpond was 6.5 feet with an average depth of 2.7 feet.

·Volume was approximately 121.5 acre ft.

·Water residence time during average flow conditions (93 cfs) was about 16 hours.

·Sediment trap efficiency was 15 20 percent.

·About 15 percent of the watershed area was contributing nearly 60 percent of upland soil loss.

The report recommended:

·Removal of 175,000 cubic yards of soft sediment, preferably by mechanical dredging, to avoid the need for settling pond sites required for hydraulic dredging.

·Installation of erosion control measures on a minimum of 6,500 acres with greater than 10 ton/acre/year soil loss rates and repair 16 major stream bank erosion sites.

·Eradication of rough fish during drawdown; refill and stock bass and panfish.

In 1992, the Village of Strum conducted a lake restoration project on Crystal Lake. The project included mechanically dredging approximately 200,000 cubic yards of sediments and installing fish cribs and a sand blanket on the public beach. The dredging project enhanced fish habitat within the lake by contouring the lake bottom to a variety of depths. Largemouth bass, bluegill, crappie, yellow perch and trout have been stocked. A sediment trap was also constructed near the mouth of Johnson Valley Creek where it enters the impoundment. Periodic dredging of this trap will likely prolong the life of Crystal Lake.

A citizen volunteer is currently monitoring the Secchi depth of Crystal Lake through the WDNR Self-Help Lakes Monitoring program. Adopt-A-Lake participants on this lake could aid in increasing awareness about and protective actions for this lake.

Dam Inspection

WDNR staff inspected the Strum Dam in August 1989. WDNR recommended repairing the concrete dam and adjoining embankment as well as adding warning signs around the dam. Recommendations also included developing a written plan for dam operation and maintenance (Coke, 1989). WDNR had received no such plan as of April 1996. Continued maintenance of this dam would prolong its life and likely reduce the risk of dam failure or removal orders.

Date  1996

Author   Aquatic Biologist

Historical Description

Strum Lake is a soft water, drainage impoundment located on the Buffalo River at the Village of Strum. The water is clear, alkaline, and has a low transparency. The Town of Unity owns the dam and the structure has a height of eight feet. This impoundment was chemically treated in 1963 to eradicate the fish present and was restocked with largemouth bass and bluegill. Other fish present include green sunfish, brook, brown, and rainbow trout. Carp are present but are not a problem. Aquatic vegetation, including algae, is a problem and chemical treatment has been used as a control measure. A village park on the south side of the lake and a county park on the north side of the lake provide public access in addition to navigable access via the river. Muskrat are significant and beaver are present. Waterfowl use includes nesting mallard and teal and migrant puddle ducks.

Source: 1970, Surface Water Resources of Trempealeau County Strum Lake, T24N, R8W, S18 Surface Acres = 31.1, S.D.F. = 1.54, Maximum Depth = 7.5 feet.

Date  1970

Author   Aquatic Biologist

Strum Lake Beach, Upper Buffalo River Watershed (BT08) Fish and Aquatic LifeStrum Lake Beach, Upper Buffalo River Watershed (BT08) RecreationStrum Lake Beach, Upper Buffalo River Watershed (BT08) Fish Consumption

Impaired Waters

Strum (Crystal) Lake Beach was evaluated for bacteria in the 2022 cycle; E. coli levels were above listing thresholds as outlined in 2022 WisCALM. This beach was added to the 2022 Impaired Waters List.

Date  2022

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.




1.The Village of Strum should continue to raise funds annually to maintain the sediment trap for Crystal Lake and support future dredging projects (Type C).

2.WDNR Watershed Management (WT) staff should consider Crystal Lake a high priority to receive a Lake Management Planning Grant (Type B).

3.Strum should consider applying for a Lake Management Planning Grant to develop long-term solutions for lake management (Type C).

4.Strum should conduct all repairs listed in the 1989 WDNR Dam Safety Inspection Report (Type C).

5.Strum should submit a written operation and maintenance plan to WDNR for the Strum Mill Dam as requested in the 1989 Dam Safety Inspection Report (Type C).

6.The Eleva-Strum School District or community youth organizations should consider developing an Adopt-A-Lake program for Crystal Lake to increase lake awareness and understanding among youth (Type C).

7.WT staff should conduct additional water quality testing on Crystal Lake to build on existing data (Type B).

Date  2011

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

Strum Lake (Crystal) is located in the Upper Buffalo River watershed which is 194.36 mi². Land use in the watershed is primarily forest (41.70%), agricultural (33.70%) and a mix of grassland (17.50%) and other uses (7.10%). This watershed has 438.86 stream miles, 85.35 lake acres and 6,107.52 wetland acres.

Nonpoint Source Characteristics

This watershed is ranked High 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.

Natural Community

Strum Lake Beach is considered a Impounded Flowing Water 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.

This classification includes waterbodies created by dams (mill ponds, reservoirs, flowages, and other impoundments) with a residence time of 14 days or more (under summer (June – Sept) mean low flow conditions with a 1 in 10 year recurrence interval (US EPA 2000)). Many natural lakes also have dams or water level control structures. However, to be included in the Impounded Flowing Waters category, the dam or water level control structure, must account for more than half of a waterbody’s maximum depth. Impoundments with a residence time of less than 14 days should be covered under the rivers and stream assessment methodology process.