West Branch Fond Du Lac River, Fond du Lac River Watershed (UF03)
West Branch Fond Du Lac River, Fond du Lac River Watershed (UF03)
West Branch Fond Du Lac River (134000)
26.79 Miles
0 - 26.79
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.
Coldwater, Cool-Cold Headwater, Macroinvertebrate, Warm Headwater, Warm Mainstem, COOL-Warm Mainstem, 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.
2021
Poor
 
This river is impaired
Elevated Water Temperature, High Phosphorus Levels
Unknown Pollutant, Total Phosphorus
 
Fond Du Lac
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.
No
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.
No
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.
Yes

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.
FAL
Fish and Aquatic Life - waters that do not have a specific use designation subcategory assigned but which are considered fishable, swimmable waters.
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.
WWSF
Streams capable of supporting a warm waterdependent sport 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.

Overview

The West Branch of the Fond du Lac River begins in northwest Fond du Lac County and flows generally southeast to its confluence with the East Branch. The West Branch has four distinct segments. The first segment is the upper headwater segment, including all its tributaries upstream from Eldorado Marsh. The second segment is contained within Eldorado Marsh. The third segment is downstream from Eldorado Marsh to the City of Fond du Lac, while the fourth segment is in the City of Fond du Lac.

The segment upstream from Eldorado Marsh has a relatively low gradient. There are numerous small wetland complexes and areas of drained wetlands. Many of the unnamed tributaries and drainageways have been ditched or straightened. There are areas of very intensive farming, including the state’s largest concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO), but there are also large areas of farmland which have been set aside as part of the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). The seemingly large CRP lands in the sub-watershed of this segment act as buffers to the stream in many areas. Water quality is good enough to allow wild rice to be present in the stream channel at least one location upstream from Eldorado Marsh (WDNR SCR-Files, 1996). All the CRP land also reduces the amount of sediment and nutrients that would otherwise find their way into Eldorado Marsh. There is a dam on the river at the Community of Eldorado. Ownership of the dam is unclear according to DNR records. As a result, it is unknown how the dam is being managed or ought to be managed.

The Eldorado Marsh segment of the river is within the boundaries of the Eldorado State Wildlife Area. There is a water control structure that is used to manipulate water levels and control flow out of the marsh. The marsh acts as a sediment and nutrient sink, where much of the incoming sediment is deposited.

The segment of the river from State Highway 23 at the south edge of the wildlife area downstream to U.S. Highway 41 has a steeper gradient and possesses a series of runs and riffles. In stream habitat looks very good and perhaps may be capable of supporting a smallmouth bass fishery (WDNR SCR-Files, 1996). There is not as much intensive agriculture in this segment and there is rural, low-density residential development along portions of the river that may be offering even more buffer from agricultural nonpoint source impacts. Macroinvertebrate monitoring indicates fair to good water quality conditions (Sorge, 1996).

The segment from U.S. Highway 41 downstream to its confluence with the East Branch is an urban stream. There are urban nonpoint sources of pollution, which affect the water quality of the stream.

Date  2011

Author  Michael Reif

West Branch Fond Du Lac River, Fond du Lac River Watershed (UF03) Fish and Aquatic LifeWest Branch Fond Du Lac River, Fond du Lac River Watershed (UF03) RecreationWest Branch Fond Du Lac River, Fond du Lac River Watershed (UF03) Fish Consumption

Impaired Waters

The 2018 assessments of the West Branch Fond Du Lac River showed continued impairment by phosphorus; new total phosphorus sample data overwhelmingly exceeded the 2018 WisCALM listing criteria for the Fish and Aquatic Life use. Temperature data also exceeded the listing criteria. Available biological data did 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, no change in the existing impaired waters listing was needed.

Date  2017

Author  Ashley Beranek

Impaired Waters

West Branch Fond Du Lac River (134000) was assessed during the 2016 listing cycle; total phosphorus sample data overwhelmingly exceed 2016 WisCALM listing thresholds for the Fish and Aquatic Life use, however, available biological data do not indicate impairment (i.e. no macroinvertebrate or fish Index of Biotic Integrity (IBI) scored in the "poor" condition category). Temperature data exceeded 2016 WisCALM listing thresholds for the Fish and Aquatic Life use.

Date  2015

Author  Aaron Larson

Condition

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.

Reports

Recommendations

Citizen-Based Stream Monitoring
Collect chemical, physical, and/or biological water quality data to assess the current overall stream health. The data can inform management decisions and may be used to identify impaired waters for biennial lists.
Navigability Determination
T16N R16E & T16N R17E; West Branch Fond du Lac River;
Navigability Determination
T16N R15E S14, 15, 22, 23, 26, 27; West Branch Fond du Lac River;
Navigability Determination
T16N R16E ; West Branch Fond du Lac River;
Navigability Determination
16N 15E S10; West Branch Fond du Lac River, trib; extension of previous determination
Dam Safety or Removal
The dam on the West Branch of the Fond du Lac River in the hamlet of Eldorado should be inspected and owner­ship issues should be resolved.

Recommendations

Additional water quality monitoring data should be collected to develop a clearer picture of the overall water quality of the river. In particular, total phosphorus, suspended solids, and macroinvertebrate data should be collected so that effective management strategies can be developed.

The dam on the West Branch of the Fond du Lac River in the hamlet of Eldorado should be inspected and ownership issues should be resolved.

Date  2011

Author  Michael Reif

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

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

West Branch Fond Du Lac River is located in the Fond du Lac River watershed which is 244.74 mi². Land use in the watershed is primarily agricultural (57.30%), grassland (15.90%) and a mix of wetland (10.90%) and other uses (16.00%). This watershed has 461.86 stream miles, 991.41 lake acres and 16,649.99 wetland acres.

Nonpoint Source Characteristics

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

West Branch Fond Du Lac River is considered a Coldwater, Cool-Cold Headwater, Macroinvertebrate, Warm Headwater, Warm Mainstem, COOL-Warm Mainstem, 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.

Warm Mainstem waters are moderate-to-large but still wadeable perennial streams with relatively warm summer temperatures. Coldwater fishes are absent, transitional fishes are common to uncommon, and warm water fishes are abundant to common. Headwater species are common to absent, mainstem species are abundant to common, and river species are common to absent.

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.

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.

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.