Lake Chetek, Lake Chetek Watershed (LC08)
Lake Chetek, Lake Chetek Watershed (LC08)
Chetek Lake (2094000)
923.39 Acres
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.
This lake is impaired
Eutrophication, Excess Algal Growth
Total Phosphorus
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.
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.
Fish and Aquatic Life - waters that do not have a specific use designation subcategory assigned but which are considered fishable, swimmable waters.
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.


Chetek Lake, in the Lake Chetek Watershed, is a 923.37 acre lake that falls in Barron County. This lake is managed for fishing and swimming and is currently considered impaired.

Date  2011

Author   Aquatic Biologist

Historical Description

Source: 1964, Surface Water Resources of Barron County Lake Chetek T33N, RIOW, Sections - several

A soft water drainage lake with its level held by a 10-foot public utility dam operated by Northern States Power Company. Fish populations consist of walleyes, northern pike, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, bluegills, black crappies and bullheads. Excessive algae growth is a problem. Three public roads provide access to the lake for boat launching. Six other platted access points provide walking trails to the lake. A total of three boat liveries, 177 cottages and homes and a Bible camp constitutes its private development. Besides the access points, there is no other public frontage on the lake, except a city park on the south side that has swimming and picnicking facilities.

Surface Acres = 683.0, S.D.F. = 2.43, Maximum Depth = 22 feet

Date  1964

Author   Surface Water Inventory Of Wisconsin

Lake Chetek, Lake Chetek Watershed (LC08) Fish and Aquatic LifeLake Chetek, Lake Chetek Watershed (LC08) RecreationLake Chetek, Lake Chetek Watershed (LC08) Fish Consumption

General Condition

Lake Chetek was documented as having hypereutrophic total phosphorus levels in 1996. Sediments and nutrients which may drive algae blooms to the point of being dominated by blue-greens which have the potential to produce toxins as well as suppress D.O. levels. Much of this can be attributed to nonpoint source runoff from agricultural sources.

Date  2010

Author   Aquatic Biologist

Impaired Waters

Chetek Lake 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 and Recreation uses due to values for chlorophyll that fall into the range expected for an aquatic community in poor health, therefore this water is listed as impaired.

Assessment results during the 2020 listing cycle show chlorophyll levels that indicate impairment to Aquatic Life and Recreation uses. Based on the most updated information, the impairment of excess algal growth was added to this water in 2020. It had previously been listed in 2006 for eutrophication caused by total phosphorus. In 2020, this listing was changed to category 5W because this lake is part of the DNR-approved watershed restoration plan: A Water Quality Strategy for the Land and Waters of the Red Cedar River Basin.

Date  2019

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.



Lakes Planning Grant
Lake Management Plan Development
Informational Meetings
Information and Education
Monitor Invasive Species
Nutrient Budget Development
Monitoring Ecosystem
Monitor Water Quality or Sediment
Watershed Mapping or Assessment

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

Lake Chetek is located in the Lake Chetek watershed which is 212.00 miĀ². Land use in the watershed is primarily forest (48.80%), agricultural (19.70%) and a mix of grassland (14.50%) and other uses (17.00%). This watershed has 270.25 stream miles, 2,008.86 lake acres and 10,678.22 wetland acres.

Nonpoint Source Characteristics

This watershed is ranked Medium 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

Chetek Lake is considered a Reservoir 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.