Fish and Aquatic Life
The Lower Big Rib River is classified as a warm water sport fishery. The river is currently stocked with muskies from Marathon City downstream to Lake Wausau. Other gamefish species commonly found in the river include walleye, northern pike and smallmouth bass. A mercury advisory for the consumption of walleye exists between Rib Falls and Lake Wausau. Limiting factors of habitat include nutrient enrichment, sedimentation, lack of fish cover and poor flow regimes. Sources of these problems have been identified as cropland erosion, streambank erosion, urban runoff, and point source discharges. Upstream of the town of Rib Falls, the Big Rib River appears to be undergoing long-term bank erosion resulting from natural processes. Bar development is apparently the result of major rain episodes rather than historic deposition. Resource specialists the falls of Rib Falls have served as a natural barrier to the effects of past in-stream mining by preventing head cutting. Historic in-stream nonmetallic mining operations have had a negative impact on the river downstream of Rib Falls.
The Upper Big Rib River has an excellent fishery. Classified as a Class I, II, and III trout stream, it also contains Class A musky waters, and small mouth bass and walleye fisheries. Biotic index sampling conducted in 1978 indicated excellent water quality.
As noted above, sand and gravel excavations affect the Big Rib River (Upper). Fish stranding has occurred in isolated excavations adjacent to the river. Sediment may be entering the stream as a result of gravel washing.
Author Linnea Rock
The Lower Big Rib River is classified as a warm water game fishery. STORET water quality data indicates levels of nitrite-nitrate nitrogen as high as 3.6-4.1 ppm. A Department of Justice letter to the DNR in 1977 indicated 34.4 miles of the Rib River was pocketed with 20 excavation sites.
Author Surface Water Inventory Of Wisconsin
For assessment purposes Big Rib River is broken into 10 segments.
Big Rib River, from its mouth to Highway 107 at Marathon City (mile 0-11.84), was evaluated for phosphorus in 2018 and found in good condition. This segment is not considered impaired.
Big Rib River, from Highway 107 at Marathon City to Pine Creek (mile 11.84-17.42), was evaluated in 2016; general mIBI assessment indicates that this water is meeting Fish and Aquatic Life use. This segment is not considered impaired.
Big Rib River, from Pine Creek to Einert Creek (mile 17.42-22.53), was evaluated in the 2018 listing cycle; evaluation showed phosphorus and biology appropriate for Aquatic Life use. This segment is not considered impaired.
Big Rib River [Einert Creek to near Felbaum Rd (mile 22.53-28.47), was evaluated in the 2018 listing cycle; evaluation showed phosphorus and biology appropriate for Aquatic Life use. This segment is not considered impaired.
Big Rib River, from near Felbaum Rd to the Marathon-Lincoln county line (mile 28.47-32.79), was evaluated in the 2018 listing cycle; evaluation showed phosphorus and biology appropriate for Aquatic Life use. This segment is not considered impaired.
Big Rib River, from Marathon-Lincoln county line to Lincoln-Taylor county line (mile 32.79-35.19), was evaluated in 2018; general fish IBI assessment indicates that this water is meeting Fish and Aquatic Life use. This segment is not considered impaired.
Big Rib River, from Lincoln-Taylor county line to Lemke Drive (mile 35.19-40.54), was evaluated every two years from 2018 to 2022; phosphorus and bug samples indicated a healthy system. This segment is not considered impaired.
Big Rib River, from Lemke Drive to CTH M (mile 40.54-44.8), was evaluated in 2016; general mIBI assessment indicates that this water is meeting Fish and Aquatic Life use. This segment is not considered impaired.
Big Rib River [CTH M to CTH C (mile 44.8-49.91)]: was evaluated for phosphorus and biology every two-year cycle from 2018 to 2022. Phosphorus levels were found to be too high and this segment was added to the impaired waters list in 2018. This water is part of the Wisconsin River TMDL; this listing was moved to the Restoration Waters List in the 2022 cycle.
Big Rib River, CTH C to headwaters (mile 49.91-55.13), was evaluated for phosphorus and biology every two-year cycle from 2018 to 2022. Phosphorus levels were found to be too high and this segment was added to the impaired waters list in 2018. This water is part of the Wisconsin River TMDL; this listing was moved to the Restoration Waters List in the 2022 cycle.
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.
Monitor Water Quality or Sediment
Category 3. 2018 TP Results: May Exceed. Station: 613055. AU: 12486.
Nine Key Element Plan
Lower Big Rib River PWS Plan - Nine Key Element Plan - The Lower Big Rib River Priority Watershed Project plan assesses the nonpoint sources of pollution in the Lower Big Rib River Watershed and guides the implementation of nonpoint source control measures. These control measures are needed to meet specific water resource objectives for Lower Big Rib River and its tributaries. The purpose of this project is to reduce the amount of pollutants originating from nonpoint sources that reach surface water and groundwater within the Lower Big Rib River Priority Watershed Project area.
Monitor Fish Tissue
Confirm FCA 1451800 name Big Rib River TMDL ID 44 Start Mile 0 End Mile 13.52
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|
|1451800||Big Rib River||10049367||Big Rib River- Tower Avenue||Map||Data|
|1451800||Big Rib River||10039654||Big Rib River at Tower Ave||8/7/2008||6/23/2022||Map||Data|
|1451800||Big Rib River||10040733||Big Rib River 100' US Wood Creek Ave||7/15/2013||10/9/2020||Map||Data|
|1451800||Big Rib River||10028752||Big Rib River At Cth M||5/20/2008||1/1/2015||Map||Data|
|1451800||Big Rib River||10007973||Big Rib River - Big Rib River Woodcreek Rd. Station #2||10/9/2000||10/9/2000||Map||Data|
|1451800||Big Rib River||10034317||Big Rib River- off of River Rd||1/1/2015||1/1/2015||Map||Data|
|1451800||Big Rib River||10007976||Big Rib River - Big Rib River County Hwy M Station # 1||10/9/2000||10/9/2000||Map||Data|
|1451800||Big Rib River||613005||Big Rib River at Cth C||Map||Data|
|1451800||Big Rib River||10043893||Big Rib River - DS CTH C||1/1/2015||1/1/2015||Map||Data|
Big Rib River is located in the Upper Rib River watershed which is 197.07 mi². Land use in the watershed is primarily forest (51.60%), wetland (26.90%) and a mix of agricultural (13.60%) and other uses (7.90%). This watershed has stream miles, lake acres and 17,127.41 wetland acres.
Nonpoint Source Characteristics
This watershed is ranked Low for runoff impacts on streams, Low for runoff impacts on lakes and Low for runoff impacts on groundwater and therefore has an overall rank of Low. 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.