Hay River, Hay River,Wilson Creek Watershed (LC04)
Hay River, Hay River,Wilson Creek Watershed (LC04)
Hay River (2068600)
37.68 Miles
0 - 37.68
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.
Macroinvertebrate, Cool-Warm Mainstem, Coldwater, Large River
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.
This river is impaired
Impairment Unknown
Total Phosphorus
Barron, Dunn
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 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.


The Hay River, along with the Red Cedar River, are large rivers that drain into Tainter Lake. Both
rivers contribute nutrients to Tainter Lake, whch experiences frequent algal blooms. In an attempt
to quantify nutrient loads to the lake, the Hay River was sampled for phosphorus, suspended solids,
and stream flow from October, 1989, to September, 1990, by the U.S Geological Survey. Numerous
water quality samples were also collected from wastewater treatment plant discharges on the Hay
An estimated 700,000 pounds of phosphorus was delivered to Tainter Lake by both the Hay and
Red Cedar Rivers. The Hay River contributed about 30 percent of the total, or 210,000 pounds. Of
that, about 12 percent was attributed to point source discharges, primarily wastewater treatment
plants, and the balance is assumed to be from nonpoint sources. About 94 percent of thls
phosphorus load is thought to be controllable (Schreiber).
The Cumberland wastewater treatment plant discharges to the headwaters of the Hay-River
downstream of the dam forming Beaver Dam Lake. This rotating biological contactor plant
discharges more than 150 pounds of phosphorus per month, and must provide phosphorus removal
under NR 217 of the Wis. Adm. Code. The present permit requires construction of phosphorus
removal facilities and sludge storage, as well as whole effluent toxicity testing.
Stella Cheese operates a cheese factory and whey drying plant south of Almena. An aerated lagoon
and spray irrigation system treats process wastewater. Steam, whey condensate, and non-contact
cooling water are discharged to an unnamed tributary to the Hay River. Past testing has shown
this discharge to be potentially toxic to aquatic life. Follow-up testing is ongoing, and the reissued
permit should address whole effluent toxicity in this discharge. WDNR is also conducting a study
on this and similar discharges to identify the causes of the toxicity.

Date  1996

Author   Aquatic Biologist

Hay River, Hay River,Wilson Creek Watershed (LC04) Fish and Aquatic LifeHay River, Hay River,Wilson Creek Watershed (LC04) RecreationHay River, Hay River,Wilson Creek Watershed (LC04) Fish Consumption

Impaired Waters

Hay River, from its mouth to CTH F (miles 0 to 37.68) was placed on the impaired waters list for phosphorus in 2012. This segment of Hay River was evaluated for phosphorus and biology every two years between 2012 and 2020; phosphorus levels were consistently elevated.

Hay River, from CTH F to 7th Street (miles 37.68 to 69.98) was placed on the impaired waters list for phosphorus in 2012. This segment of Hay River was evaluated for phosphorus and biology every two years between 2012 and 2018; phosphorus levels were consistently elevated.

Hay River, from 7th Street to headwaters (miles 69.98 to 66.35), was evaluated in the 2018 and 2020 listing cycles; phosphorus and biology did not show impairment. This segment is on the healthy waters list.

Date  2022

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.



Shoreland Ordinance
Dunn County proposes to amend or create a shoreland zoning ordinance that complies with the requirements of NR 115, Wisconsin Administrative Code (as revised effective February 1, 2010) and retain existing regulations that exceed the water resource protections of NR 115 or are specific or unique to local needs.
Monitor Fish Community
AU 15685, poor fIBI, Station 10040913
Nine Key Element Plan
Hay River PWS Plan - Nine Key Element Plan - The WI Nonpoint Source Water Pollution Abatement Program was developed to address water quality programs and to implement technical and institutional solutions delineated in the area wide plan. The Hay River Watershed was selected as one of the first five priority watersheds.
Monitor Water Quality or Sediment
incorrect IBI applied to the sites. Verified the natural community. Sites are headwater not main stem. IBIs are fair and good.

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

Hay River is located in the Wilson Creek watershed which is 244.75 miĀ². Land use in the watershed is primarily agricultural (37.50%), forest (31.40%) and a mix of grassland (19.40%) and other uses (11.70%). This watershed has 425.11 stream miles, 1,332.74 lake acres and 5,388.38 wetland acres.

Nonpoint Source Characteristics

This watershed is ranked High 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

Hay River is considered a Macroinvertebrate, Cool-Warm Mainstem, Coldwater, Large River 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.

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