Spring Creek, North Branch Manitowoc River Watershed (MA04)
Spring Creek, North Branch Manitowoc River Watershed (MA04)
Spring Creek (76900)
9.13 Miles
0 - 9.13
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.
Warm Headwater, Cool-Cold Headwater, COOL-Warm 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.
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.
Streams capable of supporting a warm waterdependent forage fishery. Representative aquatic life communities associated with these waters generally require cool or warm temperatures and concentrations of dissolved oxygen that do not drop below 5 mg/L.
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.


Spring Creek, a very hard water stream, originates north of Brillion and flows more than five miles
generally southwesterly before draining into the North Branch of the Manitowoc River. This stream flows
through most of the Brillion Marsh, which provides an excellent breeding habitat for many wildlife
species. The fishery consists of forage species only, due to the small size of this creek.
Common fish species in Spring Creek include fathead minnows, white suckers, sticklebacks, sunfish,
bullheads and carp. The sport fishery is limited due to the sluggish flow of water through the Brillion
Marsh, as well as the periodic low oxygen content.
Runoff from surrounding croplands and treated wastewater from two Brillion industries currently
contribute a large amount of sediment and nutrient load to Spring Creek and the Brillion Marsh
ecosystem. The Brillion WWTP has been in use since 1985. Before that time it was a primary treatment
facility. Hilbert has also recently upgraded their system.
The eutrophic situation contributes to excessive cattail establishment and encroachment, limiting adequate
water flow through the marsh and reducing the potential for flowage development and water level
management. The lack of open water areas has reduced the value of the marsh for waterfowl and other
wetland wildlife. Chemical control and cattail removal have been used since 1984 in an effort to increase
open-water areas.
Wildlife Management staff have been managing the cattails on Spring Creek from 1984 to 1993. Spraying
was used to open up the channel to allow for better water flow. Some ponds were also created to allow
sediments to settle and improve water quality. Obstructions (fallen trees) were also removed to increase
the water flow. The area that has been managed is located east of Sunset Drive to Bastian Road. Various
sites were chosen each year (in September) to spray and sites from the previous years were revisited to
control missed vegetation (Nikolai 1996).
The current stream classification for Spring Creek is Warm Water Forage Fishery (WWFF). WT staff
review determined that the classification for Spring Creek at Brillion be removed from the variance
waters list in the next revision of NR 104 and reclassified as a warm water forage fishery. This proposed
change might require more strict effluent limits for the Brillion Iron Works Inc. WPDES Permit.

From: Willman, Guy and Mike Toneys. 2001. The State of the Lakeshore Basin. Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Madison, WI.

Date  2001

Author  Michael Toneys

Spring Creek, North Branch Manitowoc River Watershed (MA04) Fish and Aquatic LifeSpring Creek, North Branch Manitowoc River Watershed (MA04) RecreationSpring Creek, North Branch Manitowoc River Watershed (MA04) 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.


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

Spring Creek is located in the North Branch Manitowoc River watershed which is 76.97 miĀ². Land use in the watershed is primarily agricultural (61.80%), grassland (16%) and a mix of wetland (14.60%) and other uses (7.50%). This watershed has 129.77 stream miles, 292.80 lake acres and 7,389.45 wetland acres.

Nonpoint Source Characteristics

This watershed is ranked Not Ranked for runoff impacts on streams, High 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

Spring Creek is considered a Warm Headwater, Cool-Cold Headwater, COOL-Warm Headwater 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.

Cool (Warm-Transition) Headwaters are small, sometimes intermittent streams with cool to warm summer temperatures. Coldwater fishes are uncommon to absent, transitional fishes are abundant to common, and warm water fishes are common to uncommon. Headwater species are abundant to common, mainstem species are common to absent, and river species are absent.

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.

Warm Headwaters are small, usually intermittent streams with warm summer temperatures. Coldwater fishes are absent, transitional fishes are common to uncommon, and warm water fishes are abundant to common. Headwater species are abundant to common, mainstem species are common to absent, and river species are absent.

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