Fish and Aquatic Life
Martha Lake, in Osseo, is a 16 acre impoundment on the South Fork of the Buffalo River. See the Upper Buffalo River Watershed (BT08) map in this plan for its location. The watershed above Martha Lake is approximately 36 square miles, or 23,000 acres.
The South Fork Buffalo River upstream from Martha Lake is protected by a state fishery area and ungrazed woodlands which provide a well-buffered stream corridor for the mainstem and several tributaries. The dam discharges water to the Class II trout portion of the Buffalo River between Osseo and Strum; this portion is also an Exceptional Resource Water.
The Lake Martha Management Alternatives Report (1978) estimated the average erosion rate for the watershed to be 1.2 tons/acre/year, with a sediment delivery rate of 3,600 cubic yards per year to Martha Lake. A WDNR lake survey in 1967 estimated the volume to be 45 acre ft. Before dredging in 1979, the lake's storage capacity had declined to roughly 36 acre ft. with a mean depth of 2.2 feet.
In 1979, the lake was dredged to a uniform depth of 7.5 to 8.5 feet and its volume increased to 95 acre ft. Lake volume has reduced 18 percent between 1980 and 1989 to approximately 78 acre ft., with a mean depth of 4.8 feet.
The sedimentation rate in Martha Lake is substantially less than the rate in either Bugle Lake or Lake Henry. It is indicative of limited upland soil erosion and greater stream bank stability in the watershed (OILR, 1978). An average of 3,803 cubic yards per year of sediment was deposited from December 1981 to January 1989 (See Figure 6, Figure 8 and Table 36.)
Sedimentation in the upper lake area appears to be about 2.5 times the rate in the lower area. The observed sedimentation rate is greater than the predicted sediment delivery rate (OILR, 1978). It is likely that channel bedload scouring above the lake is responsible for much of the sedimentation immediately following dredging.
WDNR projected the life expectancy of Martha Lake using estimates of the average inflow (OILR, 1978) and the sediment delivery rate. The reported inflow was adjusted up 15 percent to compensate for a 15 percent lower than normal precipitation during the study year. The sediment delivery rate was estimated by dividing the sedimentation rate by an average estimated sediment trapping efficiency (Brune). The sediment delivery rate was then assumed to be constant over the life of the reservoir.
It will take 37 years for Lake Martha to return to the 1979 pre dredging volume. However, if the sediment delivery rate declines as channel scouring or head cutting is lessened, the millpond's life expectancy could be longer.
Martha Lake experiences less sedimentation than Bugle Lake and Lake Henry. As a result, its dredging project has greater longevity. Martha Lake also has less turbidity and nuisance plant growth. This may be due in part to the coarse and relatively less fertile soils of this lake's watershed as compared to those of Bugle and Henry. The amount of stream buffer zone and relative lack of cattle in the watershed above the lake may also be a factor.
Continued efforts toward watershed protection and improvement are important. A sediment trap above the wetland area, in the lake's upper end, might further prolong its life and protect the wetlands from sedimentation.
WDNR staff inspected the Osseo Dam in July 1994. WDNR recommended repairs to the spillway and spillway apron, as well as the installation of dam warning signs. These repairs are slated for completion by July 1, 1997 (Sturtevant, 1994). WDNR requested and has received an operation and maintenance plan for the dam. The dam is a top draw structure discharging water from the surface of the impoundment to the river downstream. This water may be warmer than the river because of the solar radiation of the impoundment. The potential impact of this is unknown since no temperature data has been collected.
Author Aquatic Biologist
Martha Lake is a very soft water, drainage impoundment located on the south fork of the Buffalo River at the City of Osseo. The water is clear, acid, and has a low transparency. The dam is owned by the city and it has a height of 9 feet. Following a chemical eradication of fish in 1962, the impoundment has been managed for largemouth bass, bluegill, and trout (brook and rainbow). There is public access. Muskrat are significant. Waterfowl use includes nesting mallard and teal and migrant puddle ducks.
Source: 1970, Surface Water Resources of Trempealeau County Martha Lake, T24N, R7W, S10 Surface Acres = 13.4, S.D.F. = 2.74, Maximum Depth = 8 feet.
Author Aquatic Biologist
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.
Protect Riparian or Shorelands
The City of Osseo proposes to restore shoreline on six properties along Lake Martha in Trempealeau County. Major project elements to include: 1) Revegetation of shoreline with native plants, 2) removal of sea walls and restabilization of the shoreline.
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|
|1827300||Martha Lake||10015059||Lake Martha Ibi||Map||Data|
|1827300||Martha Lake||10015103||Martha Lake Mini Fyke Nets||Map||Data|
|1827100||South Fork Buffalo River||10018605||South Fork Of Buffalo River - Martha Lake -- Access||Map||Data|
|1827300||Martha Lake||10005944||Martha Lake||8/29/2000||7/24/2013||Map||Data|
|1827300||Martha Lake||10018605||South Fork Of Buffalo River - Martha Lake -- Access||Map||Data|
|1827300||Martha Lake||10015060||Martha Lake Gamefish||Map||Data|
Martha Lake is located in the Upper Buffalo River watershed which is 194.36 mi². Land use in the watershed is primarily forest (41.70%), agricultural (33.70%) and a mix of grassland (17.50%) and other uses (7.10%). This watershed has 438.86 stream miles, 85.35 lake acres and 6,107.52 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.