Gunderson Valley Creek, Blue River Watershed (LW09)
Gunderson Valley Creek, Blue River Watershed (LW09)
Gunderson Valley Creek (1212600)
5.40 Miles
0 - 5.40
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.
Cool-Cold Headwater
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
Low DO, Degraded Habitat
Total Phosphorus, Sediment/Total Suspended Solids
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 small populations of forage fish or tolerant macro-invertebrates that are tolerant of organic pollution. Typically limited due to naturally poor water quality or habitat deficiencies. Representative aquatic life communities associated with these waters generally require warm temperatures and concentrations of dissolved oxygen that remain above 3 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 cold water sport fishery, or serving as a spawning area for salmonids and other cold water fish species. Representative aquatic life communities, associated with these waters, generally require cold temperatures and concentrations of dissolved oxygen that remain above 6 mg/L. Since these waters are capable of supporting natural reproduction, a minimum dissolved oxygen concentration of 7 mg/L is required during times of active spawning and support of early life stages of newly-hatched fish.
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.


The entire 4 miles of Gunderson Valley Creek, a
tributary to Castle Rock Creek, are included on Wisconsin’s 2002 section 303(d) list. Castle Rock was listed as impaired due to degraded habitat due to sedimentation that limited the stream’s coldwater fishery. Gunderson Valley Creek has sedimentation problems, substantial diurnal fluctuations in dissolved oxygen and common exceedances of the dissolved oxygen criterion in Wisconsin’s water quality standards. A TMDL was approved in 2004 for sediment and phosphorus.
Gunderson Valley Creek has not been assigned a designated use and falls
into a default situation, where the use may be any of the five classifications. Temperatures in this stream are at the maximum to support a coldwater fishery. At a minimum, it should be able to support a warmwater sport or forage fishery not dominated by tolerant eurythermal species. For purposes of this set of TMDLs, Gunderson Valley is assumed to be able to support a coldwater fishery.
The coldwater IBI for this stream, an indicator of fish community health, was zero and there are a number of other measures that indicate a severely degraded stream. Nutrient concentrations are very high. The mean of the totalphosphorus concentrations during the 2001 growing season was 0.52 mg/l. The nutrient levels are particularly high during runoff events where total phosphorus concentrations were 4.3 mg/l on June 3, 2002 and 2.4 mg/l on June 11, 2002. This water was assessed during the 2012 listing cycle, and total phosphorus sample data still exceed 2012 WisCALM listing criteria for the fish and aquatic life use, and biological impairment was observed.

A habitat survey was not conducted on Gunderson Valley Creek, but the sedimentation problem is readily apparent in the downstream portion near the confluence with Castle Rock Creek.

Dissolved oxygen levels do not meet the water quality criterion of 6 mg/l for a
coldwater stream (nor 5 mg/l for a warmwater sport or forage fishery stream). between June and August 2001, the minimum values occurring as part of a diel
swing went down to 2.6 mg/l. Dissolved oxygen levels went below 6 mg/l on five
(monthly) sampling dates in 2001 and 2002. Predawn levels were likely lower than
these daytime samples. Such diel dissolved oxygen swings are indicative of nutrients
supporting aquatic plant growth which in turn results in night time dissolved oxygen use.

Another concern is dissolved oxygen during summer storm events. The bacteria in
the organic load carried in the runoff event use much of the dissolved oxygen and cause
the levels to drop further. One such occurrence took place on August 5, 2002 and is
described in the “Castle Rock Creek TMDL Project Final [Monitoring] Report”. This
August event demonstrates the combination of dissolved oxygen being lowered by both
nutrients (diel swings) and BOD (“slug load”). Manure runoff is the most likely cause
of the further lowering of the dissolved oxygen. Gunderson Valley Creek also has high
levels of ammonia and, based on very limited sampling, high levels of bacteria. The
ammonia levels, however, do not exceed water quality criteria for either a coldwater of
warmwater stream.
TMDLs for Gunderson Valley Creek are developed for
sediment to address the degraded habitat situation and for phosphorus to address the
concerns with diurnal dissolved oxygen swings. There is no “critical” period for the
sedimentation concern. The sediment is present throughout the year, although sediment
loads from the watershed do come from runoff events. The “critical” period for
phosphorus is summer base flow conditions. However, the phosphorus loads from
runoff events - especially those in the growing season - are the source of the base flow
phosphorus loads. There are no continuous discharge sources of phosphorus in the

Date  2011

Author   Aquatic Biologist

Gunderson Valley Creek, Blue River Watershed (LW09) Fish and Aquatic LifeGunderson Valley Creek, Blue River Watershed (LW09) RecreationGunderson Valley Creek, Blue River Watershed (LW09) Fish Consumption


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.



TMDL Implementation
Castle Rock (1211300) and Gunderson Creek (1212600) TMDL was created to address phosphorus, sediment, and for at least one creek biological oxygen demand. The TMDL was approved and is in implementation through projects funded by the Clean Water Act Section 319 Program. Implementation Plan is needed.

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

Gunderson Valley Creek is located in the Blue River watershed which is 216.19 miĀ². Land use in the watershed is primarily forest (41.60%), grassland (29.40%) and a mix of agricultural (20.80%) and other uses (8.20%). This watershed has 513.46 stream miles, 416.83 lake acres and 5,825.06 wetland acres.

Nonpoint Source Characteristics

This watershed is ranked High for runoff impacts on streams, Not Ranked 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.This water is ranked High Stream for individual Rivers based on runoff problems and the likelihood of success from project implementation.

Natural Community

Gunderson Valley Creek is considered a Cool-Cold Headwater 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.

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.

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