Fish and Aquatic Life
This great river was first called the 'Mee-zee-see-bee, Father of Waters" by the Chippewa and Ojibway Indians and from this Indian word comes the modern name 'Mississipp'' --an appropriate name because the river basin, or watershed, extends from the Allegheny Mountains in the eastern United States to the Rocky Mountains. It is the world's third largest drainage basin, with 250 tributaries and branches. The river basin drains 41 percent of the country's water from all or part of the 31 states.
The headwaters of the Mississippi drain into Lake Itasca in the densely wooded region of north central Minnesota. From Lake Itasca it emerges as the Mississippi River, 12 feet wide and two feet deep. It then flows 2,330 miles to its mouth in the Gulf of Mexico. The total watershed area of the Mississippi is 1.24 million square miles. By the time the river has reached Dubuque and the southernmost boundary of Grant County, it has a watershed area of about 82,500 square miles.
The Mississippi is the third longest river in the world, flowing 2340 mi (3,770 km) miles from its source in Lake Itasca in northwestern Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico. It takes three months for a drop of water to make this journey.
The river is divided into the upper Mississippi, from its source at Lake Itasca south to the Ohio River, and the lower Mississippi, from the Ohio to its mouth near New Orleans, Louisiana.
Within the political boundaries of Wisconsin, outlying Grant County, the Mississippi River covers 14,777 acres. This figure does not include the water acreage considered in this publication as named lakes which adjoin the river. Following the main channel, which serves as the boundary between Wisconsin and Iowa, there are 49 miles of river along Grant County and the average width is 1.29 miles.
Lock and Dam Number 10 extends from Guttenberg, Iowa to a point in Grant County two miles south of Glen Haven. Lock and Dam Number 11 is located at Dubuque, two miles upstream from the Wisconsin-Illinois border. A navigation channel 9 to 12 feet deep is maintained along the Mississippi from Minneapolis and St. Paul to New Orleans. Sand and gravel are the primary bottom types in the main portion of the river while muck, silt, and detritus are dominant in the still backwater areas. A total of 3,488 acres of timber swamp and deep marsh wetland adjoin the Mississippi along Grant County. Approximately one-half of the area considered here are islands of timber swamp that are possibly dry and sandy during the summer months.
This mighty river has something to offer everyone interested in the outdoors, especially those interested in water-oriented activities. The high cliffs on the Iowa and Wisconsin mainlands, the waterfowl and shore birds, the sunrise as observed from a duck blind, the sunset looked upon while cooking the evening meal, and the glassy water surface seen over a warming campfire offer majestic sights to a lover of natural beauty.
Boating enthusiasts spend many hours plying the river, picnicking, swimming, and water-skiing where suitable sites are found. Twelve public boat landings and two swimming beaches are conveniently located along this portion of the river. The Upper Mississippi Wildlife Refuge, as well as the nearby Wyalusing and Nelson Dewey State Parks offer many unexpected wonders to other nature lovers. Camping on the sandy islands is very popular and there are also numerous other public and private campgrounds on the nearby mainland that are readily available to the public.
Hunting is a popular sport along the river. Ducks that are reared locally, such as mallards, wood ducks, and blue-winged teal, provide good hunting in the early fall. During the later migration diving ducks, including canvasback, redhead, scaup and ringneck ducks pose a larger variety to the duck hunter. Later yet in the season the deer hunter invades the lowlands in search of the big "Swamp Buck'.
From: Smith, Tom D., and Ball, Joseph R., Lake and Stream Classification Project. Surface Water Resources of Grant County, Department of Natural Resources, 1972. Surface Area = 14,777 acres, Length. = 49.0 miles, Gradient = .21 ft./mile. Flow = 43,230.0 c.f.s.
Author Surface Water Inventory Of Wisconsin
The Mississippi River is a tremendous boon to Grant County. There are no natural lakes within the county except on the floodplains of the two main rivers. The Mississippi helps to fill this void. Thirteen named bays, cuts, and sloughs totaling 2,426 acres of surface water adjoin the Grant County portion of the river. Approximately 93.5 miles of public frontage is found along the river and adjoining lakes in the county. Two areas of the river are designated as wildlife sanctuaries and are located directly above and below Cassville.
The river is a tremendous natural resource that should be protected for all time. It has been despoiled by many types of pollution. Various pesticides, plasticides, and mercury compounds are being studied by the Department of Agriculture, the Food and Health Administration, and the Department of Natural Resources at the present time in an effort to control and understand the effects of these pollutants. Sewage effluent from bordering municipalities is a potential problem also. This river has played a very important role in the development of our nation and it continues to be one of the world's great inland waterways, therefore every attempt should be made to not only maintain this legacy at its present level but to improve
its quality wherever and whenever possible.
Author Surface Water Inventory Of Wisconsin
Mississippi River reaches 5 & 6, and Pool 10 in reach 4 (miles 580.8 - 648) were assessed during the 2018 listing cycle. The 2018 assessments showed continued impairment by phosphorus; new total phosphorus sample data exceed 2018 WisCALM listing criteria for the Fish and Aquatic Life use, however, no biological data (i.e. no macroinvertebrate or fish Index of Biotic Integrity (IBI) scores) were available to assess further biological impairment. Based on the most updated information, no change in existing impaired waters listing is needed.
Author Ashley Beranek
Mississippi River (reach 1, miles 763.4 - 811.5) was assessed during the 2018 listing cycle. The 2018 assessments showed continued impairment by phosphorus; new total phosphorus sample data exceeded the 2018 WisCALM listing criteria for the Fish and Aquatic Life use. However, no biological data (i.e. no macroinvertebrate or fish Index of Biotic Integrity (IBI) scores) were available to assess further biological impairment. Based on the most updated information, no change in the existing impaired waters listing was needed.
Author Ashley Beranek
The 2018 assessments the Mississippi River (reach 3, miles 693.7-714.2) showed continued impairment by phosphorus; new total phosphorus sample data exceeded the 2018 WisCALM listing criteria for the Fish and Aquatic Life use. However, no biological data (i.e. no macroinvertebrate or fish Index of Biotic Integrity (IBI) scores) were available to assess biological impairment. Based on the most updated information, no change in the existing impaired waters listing was needed.
Author Ashley Beranek
River Mile 811 to 781:
A large portion of this reach (St. Croix River to upper Lake Pepin) has been identified by Minnesota to be impaired by turbidity due to the exceedance of their water quality standard. Since Wisconsin shares its Clean Water Act responsibilities on the Mississippi River with Minnesota, we should recognize Minnesota’s turbidity criterion (25 ntu) and impaired waters listing for the Mississippi River waters by including sediment-related impairments in Wisconsin’s 303(d) listing for the river.
In 2003, the Upper Mississippi River Conservation Committee recommended light penetration-related water quality criteria to protect and sustain submersed aquatic vegetation (SAV) in the UMR. Specific summer average (May 15 to Sept. 15) criteria for TSS (25 mg/L), turbidity (20 ntu) and Secchi depth transparency (0.5m) were recommended. This documented is available from the UMRCC Web site (http://www.mississippi-river.com/umrcc/). Water quality assessments and evaluations of monitoring data from MPCA, USGS, Metropolitan Council of Environmental Services and WDNR indicate these criteria are not being achieved in the reach extending from the St. Croix River to upper Lake Pepin.
Submersed aquatic vegetation monitoring conducted by MDNR as part of the USGS Long Term Resource Monitoring Program (LTRMP) has indicated low frequency of occurrence and declining SAV levels in upper Pool 4 (above Lake Pepin) over the last 10 years. This monitoring program has also revealed a notable increase in SAV species richness from upper to lower Lake Pepin (Yao Yin, USGS personal communication), which is believed to be closely linked to greater water clarity in lower Lake Pepin. Cursory evaluations of SAV in Pool 3 (Prescott, WI to Lock and Dam 3) by the WDNR Mississippi River Team indicate that this vegetation is rare or absent in main channel border, side channels or backwater areas (lower Sturgeon Lake). It is interesting to note that moderate beds of SAV are present in Pool 3 in the main channel border at Prescott, Wisconsin in areas that are influenced by the St. Croix River, which has low TSS concentrations.
Studies conducted by the University of Minnesota have indicated sedimentation rates in Lake Pepin are approximately 10-fold greater than levels experienced prior to European settlement (Engstrom and Almendinger, 2000). At current sedimentation rates the upper one-third of Lake Pepin is projected to be lost within 100 years. Lake Pepin is the only natural riverine lake in the UMR and its accelerated in-filling represents an important loss of a unique aquatic resource that has persisted since the last glaciation. Lake Pepin offers an important role in trapping sediments, including contaminant-bound particulate matter originating from upstream urban and agricultural areas that would otherwise negatively influence the river ecosystem downstream. The 261 mile long UMR National Wildlife Refuge begins immediately below Lake Pepin and represents the longest river refuge in the Lower 48 States and offers a critical migratory corridor for fish and wildlife (http://www.fws.gov/midwest/UpperMississippiRiver/).
Author John Sullivan
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 Baseline Survey
Upper Mississippi River Pool 8
Long Term Resource Monitoring - 2017 Status Report
Monitor Water Quality or Sediment
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|
|721000||Mississippi River ||483095||Mississippi River - Lock And Dam 3||9/2/1992||7/11/2007||Map||Data|
|721000||Mississippi River ||10018109||Mississippi River -- Jaques Boat Landing||9/6/2009||9/5/2010||Map||Data|
|721000||Mississippi River ||10018476||Mississippi River -- Diamond Bluff Landing||Map||Data|
|731900||Wisconsin Channel||10018486||Mississippi River -- Hager City||7/17/2009||8/23/2011||Map||Data|
|5591636||Unnamed||10035662||Unnamed - Area of Open Water||6/29/2010||8/19/2017||Map||Data|
|721000||Mississippi River ||483002||Mississippi River - Prescott Stp||7/9/1979||7/9/1979||Map||Data|
|721000||Mississippi River ||10022428||Miss River -Pool No.3_General Lake Station||10/13/1992||7/30/2014||Map||Data|
|721000||Mississippi River ||10032637||Misissippi River below mouth of Saint Croix River Prescott||5/15/2006||7/8/2011||Map||Data|
|731800||Lake Pepin||10043178||Mississippi River- MPCA Sites||9/3/2013||1/1/2015||Map||Data|
|721000||Mississippi River ||10048601||Mississippi River - LD3BG1||6/27/2017||10/7/2017||Map||Data|
|5544466||Unnamed||10018475||Mississippi River -- Maiden Rock||7/11/2009||8/23/2011||Map||Data|
|5544076||Unnamed||100842||Unnamed - WBIC 5544076||8/10/2008||8/10/2008||Map||Data|
|731900||Wisconsin Channel||10010817||WI Channel 135th Ave||Map||Data|
|721000||Mississippi River ||483065||Mississippi River at Hwy 63||Map||Data|
|731900||Wisconsin Channel||10053682||UPPER POOL 4 LAKE UNIT||Map||Data|
|731900||Wisconsin Channel||10029640||MISSISSIPPI RIVER POOL 4 SIDE CHANNEL||7/6/2004||7/28/2005||Map||Data|
|721000||Mississippi River ||10039981||Mississippi River - Smith's Landing Pool 3||6/20/1989||6/20/1989||Map||Data|
|721000||Mississippi River ||10043178||Mississippi River- MPCA Sites||9/3/2013||1/1/2015||Map||Data|
|721000||Mississippi River ||10052516||P3PFC1||6/27/2019||8/14/2019||Map||Data|
|721000||Mississippi River ||10018565||Mississippi River -- Access at Prescott near Monroe St. ||8/23/2011||8/23/2011||Map||Data|
|732700||Trenton Slough||10035245||Trenton Slough - Area of Open Water||6/29/2010||7/13/2012||Map||Data|
|721000||Mississippi River ||10042217||Mississippi River 0.67mi W of 1050th St near Diamond Bluff WI||8/4/2014||9/25/2019||Map||Data|
|721000||Mississippi River ||473016||Mississippi River-Pool 4 - Upper Lake Pepin Comp Sed||6/15/1994||6/15/1994||Map||Data|
|5015245||Unnamed||10035198||Unnamed - Area of Open Water||Map||Data|
|721000||Mississippi River ||10013046||Mississippi River - Prescottisnav||Map||Data|
|721000||Mississippi River ||483093||Mississippi River - Below Ld 3||7/14/2004||9/7/2011||Map||Data|
|721000||Mississippi River ||10010817||WI Channel 135th Ave||Map||Data|
|721000||Mississippi River ||10010825||Wichannelnav||Map||Data|
|721000||Mississippi River ||10053683||POOL 3 LAKE UNIT||Map||Data|
|721000||Mississippi River ||483027||Mississippi River - Pool 3 at Lock & Dam 3 (L/D3)||1/19/1977||11/4/2019||Map||Data|
|733510||Unnamed||10035198||Unnamed - Area of Open Water||Map||Data|
|5014348||Unnamed||10035662||Unnamed - Area of Open Water||6/29/2010||8/19/2017||Map||Data|
|721000||Mississippi River ||10029639||MISSISSIPPI RIVER POOL 4 NAVIGATIONAL CHANNEL||7/6/2004||7/6/2004||Map||Data|
|721000||Mississippi River ||10030370||Mississippi River -- Prescott Public Boat Launch (2nd and Front)||6/20/2009||7/3/2019||Map||Data|
|721000||Mississippi River ||10043049||Mississippi River - Pool 4 at Red Wing MN||6/27/1990||9/3/2009||Map||Data|
Mississippi River is located in the Bear Creek watershed which is 176.55 mi². Land use in the watershed is primarily forest (41.60%), agricultural (32.30%) and a mix of wetland (13.10%) and other uses (13.00%). This watershed has 383.21 stream miles, 1,080.51 lake acres and 16,135.70 wetland acres.
Nonpoint Source Characteristics
This watershed is ranked Low 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.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.