Halfway Creek, Lower Black River Watershed (BR01)
Halfway Creek, Lower Black River Watershed (BR01)
Halfway Creek (1676000)
5.15 Miles
0 - 5.15
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.
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.
La Crosse
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.
Supported 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.
Supported Aquatic Life
Waters that support fish and aquatic life communities (healthy biological communities).
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.


Fishery Survey 1975 - Documented trout upstream of CTH DH which confirms its Class III classification. An updated classification from Class III to Class II for the upper 1.5 miles of Halfway Creek was recommended as a result of this survey.

Hydraulic and Sedimentation Study of Halfway Creek and Sand Lake Coulee Creek. Town of Onalaska, WI. November 1995, Vierbicher Associates Inc. EDA Project No: 06-06-61051. - Documented a substantial sediment load to Halfway Creek which originate in the lands that drain to Halfway Creek.

Date  2002

Author   Aquatic Biologist


Halfway Creek, which flows through Holmen, is a twelve mile stream with portions classified as a Class II and III trout stream and a warm water sport fishery. Tremendous siltation from streambank pasturing has decreased in-stream habitat for fish and aquatic insects. Delivery of sediment from several tributaries also contributes to habitat problems seen in Halfway Creek. Streambank pasturing of livestock, barnyard runoff and cropland erosion are documented problems along Halfway Creek and its tributaries (Masterson). The stream has the potential to improve to Class I and II trout and extend the areas inhabited by trout water an additional two miles (Talley). The aquatic insect community above Holmen indicated very good to excellent water quality; however, excessive fecal contamination, suspended solids, and nutrients were also recorded (Masterson). Urbanization of the lower portion of this stream also contributes problems to Halfway Creek in the form of increased stormwater runoff volume and sedimentation from construction sites not secured with erosion control measures.

A cause of increased flood frequencies in the lower portions of Halfway Creek was linked to sediment loading throughout the 36 square mile Halfway Creek watershed. An estimated sediment load of 50,170 tons per year, or 1,400 tons/sq. mile/year, reaches Halfway Creek (Vierbicher). A portion of that sediment load is transported downstream. As the stream gradient decreases near the Mississippi River, movement of this sediment slows and accumulates in the stream channel, causing the stream to become wide and shallow, which leads to lower flood thresholds.
The Holmen wastewater treatment plant discharges to Halfway Creek. Adjustments in plant operation should be made that contribute to frequent treatment plant upsets. During the facility planning process, the community of Holmen should examine regionalized sewerage treatment with the City of LaCrosse as a potentially cost effective option (Cameron).
Metallics, Inc. discharges process wastewater to Halfway Creek. A study to determine water quality below the discharge in Halfway Creek was conducted in 1996. Continuous monitoring equipment measured a number of water quality parameters. No measurable impact to Halfway Creek with regard to temperature, dissolved oxygen or pH were documented (Sullivan and others).

From: Koperksi, Cindy. 1999. Black River Water Quality Management Plan (draft). Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Madison, WI.

Date  1999

Author  Cynthia Koperski

Halfway Creek, Lower Black River Watershed (BR01) Fish and Aquatic LifeHalfway Creek, Lower Black River Watershed (BR01) RecreationHalfway Creek, Lower Black River Watershed (BR01) Fish Consumption

General Condition

Halfway Creek (Mouth to Main St. in Holmen (CTH DH)) was assessed during the 2018 listing cycle; new biological (macroinvertebrate 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.

Date  2017

Author  Ashley Beranek

Impaired Waters

Halfway Creek, from Knutson Rd. to CTH W (miles 7.72 to 11.59), habitat suffers from a lack of in-stream cover and sedimentation caused by streambank erosion, both natural and livestock grazing. This segment was put on the impaired waters list for sediment and degraded habitat in 1998.

Date  1998

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 Aquatic Biology
Conduct biological (mIBI or fIBI) monitoring on Halfway Creek, WBIC: 1676000, AU:14054

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

Halfway Creek is located in the Lower Black River watershed which is 189.82 miĀ². Land use in the watershed is primarily forest (42%), agricultural (20.30%) and a mix of wetland (13.80%) and other uses (23.70%). This watershed has 383.70 stream miles, 1,042.10 lake acres and 17,676.19 wetland acres.

Nonpoint Source Characteristics

This watershed is ranked Not Available 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

Halfway Creek is considered a Coldwater 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.

Fisheries & Habitat

From Main St. in Holmen (CTH DH) to CTH W (class 3); from CTH W to the headwaters (class 2).

Date  1980

Author   Aquatic Biologist

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