Fish and Aquatic Life
The headwaters of Otter Creek are in a heavily wooded area of the Baraboo Hills, part of the
driftless, or unglaciated, area of the state. Because much of the surrounding land is protected,
the upper two to three miles of the creek are exceptionally pristine for this part of the state.
This reach of Otter was one of the streams used to develop the Hilsenhoff Biotic Index for
evaluating water quality because of the stream's exceptional water quality and the diversity of
insect life in and around the stream. Approximately three miles are Class I trout waters and
an outstanding resource water (ORW). The stream has a rock rubble substrate that supports a
native brook trout fishery. Below the trout water, the stream leaves the driftless area and flows
through Sauk Prairie, a lacustrine and outwash plain. The character of the stream changes as
does adjacent land use activities. Cropland and bank erosion are habitat and water quality
problems. Portions of the lower reaches of the stream dry up occasionally, and the heavy use
of groundwater for agricultural irrigation is thought to be the cause. Otter Creek has been
ranked as a high priority for nonpoint source pollution reduction. A rare aquatic species has
been found in the creek in past surveys.
From: Ripp, Coreen, Koperski, Cindy and Folstad, Jason. 2002. The State of the Lower Wisconsin River Basin.
PUBL WT-559-2002. Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Madison, WI.
Author Cynthia Koperski
The headwaters of Otter Creek are in a heavily wooded area of the Baraboo Hills, part of
the driftless, or unglaciated, area of the state. Because much of the surrounding land is
protected, the upper two to three miles of the creek are exceptionally pristine for this
part of the state. This reach of Otter was one of the streams used to develop the
Hilsenhoff Biotic Index (WDNR, 1991) for evaluating water quality because of the
stream's exceptional water quality and the diversity of insect life in and around the
stream. The upper 3.5 miles of Otter Creek were nominated for status as an exceptional
resource water. Approxinlately three miles are Class II trout waters (WDNR, 1980).
Below the trout water reach, the stream leaves the driftless area and flows through Sauk
Prairie, a lacustrine and outwash plain. The character of the stream changes as does
adjacent land use activities. Cropland and bank erosion are habitat and water quality
problems. Portions of the lower reaches of the stream dry up occasionally, with heavy
use of groundwater for agricultural irrigation thought to be the cause (Van Dyck)
Author Surface Water Inventory Of Wisconsin
Otter Creek (miles 17.17-18.81) was assessed during the 2018 listing cycle; new biological (fish Index of Biotic Integrity (IBI) scores) sample data were clearly below the 2018 WisCALM listing thresholds for the Fish and Aquatic Life use. This water was meeting this designated use and was not considered impaired.
Author Ashley Beranek
Otter Creek was recently evaluated during the ten-year period of 2009 through 2018 for results that were reported to the USEPA for the 2020 Clean Water Act condition report. The waterbody is considered impaired, or in poor condition for designated uses which include the quality of fish and aquatic life, recreational use, and public health and welfare (fish consumption and related). Pollutants or problems encountered during sampling (impairments) are determined based on water quality standards outlined in Wisconsin 2020 Consolidated Assessment and Listing Methodology (WisCALM). Assessment results show water conditions that are potentially harmful for Aquatic Life use due to values for temperature that fall into the range expected for an aquatic community in poor health, therefore this water is listed as impaired.
Otter Creek (mile 0-17.17): This portion of the creek has been listed as impaired since 2014 for total suspended solids.
Otter Creek (mile 17.17-18.81): Assessment results during the 2020 listing cycle show elevated water temperature levels inappropriate for Aquatic Life use according to 2020 WisCALM standards. Available biological data do not indicate impairment (i.e. no macroinvertebrate or fish Index of Biotic Integrity (IBI) scored in the "poor" condition category). Based on the most updated information, this water was proposed for the impaired waters list in 2020.
Otter Creek (mile 18.81-20.23): This portion of the creek is in good condition for Fish Consumption use. There is not enough information to assess Aquatic Life condition.
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
Restoration of the stream bank occurred just upstream in 2016, or prior to data collection. I recommend resample in the future. AU: 13470; Station ID: 10015217
ATTAINS Water Identified for Protection
Landowners need to be engaged in the discussion of Otter Creek and feel that their concerns are heard and responded to. To do this, we aim to create a non-profit corporation, such as the Otter Creek Association (suggested name for use in this application). It's broad purpose would be to organize efforts to protect and enhance the creek and its watershed. Once the group is formed and incorporated, we will conduct an organizational assessment to establish goals, strengths, weaknesses and areas where capacity needs to be built.
ATTAINS Follow-up monitoring conducted
Otter Creek and Tributary monitoring - continuous meter.
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|
|1258400||Otter Creek||573168||Otter Creek - Otter Creek Headwaters||6/13/2003||1/1/2015||Map||Data|
|1258400||Otter Creek||10033956||Otter Creek Upstream Stone's Pocket Rd. (NC-0604)||6/7/2011||1/1/2015||Map||Data|
|1258400||Otter Creek||10009970||Otter Creek - Otter Creek 30 Meters Upstream From First Stone Pocket Road Bridge.||Map||Data|
|1258400||Otter Creek||10015209||Otter Creek-Stones Pocket Rd Bridge South Of Gravel Rd At Gps 43.3939/-89.7958 120 M To End||1/1/2015||1/1/2015||Map||Data|
|1258400||Otter Creek||10010608||Otter Creek||Map||Data|
|1258400||Otter Creek||10015206||Otter Creek-First Bridge On Stones Pocket Rd North Of Kings Corner Rd 116 M To End||5/9/2009||6/9/2017||Map||Data|
|1258400||Otter Creek||10010772||Otter Creek - Otter Creek Headwaters Li-71||10/15/1989||4/9/2017||Map||Data|
Otter Creek is located in the Honey Creek watershed which is 217.78 mi². Land use in the watershed is primarily forest (39.50%), agricultural (33.20%) and a mix of grassland (15.80%) and other uses (11.40%). This watershed has 430.53 stream miles, 301.07 lake acres and 9,324.41 wetland acres.
Nonpoint Source Characteristics
This watershed is ranked Medium 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.