Rice Lake, Brill and Red Cedar Rivers Watershed (LC10)
Rice Lake, Brill and Red Cedar Rivers Watershed (LC10)
Rice Lake (2103900)
859.25 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
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.


Rice Lake is a 939-acre impoundment of the Red Cedar River adjacent to the city of Rice Lake. The water level is controlled by an 11-foot dam at the outlet of the lake. Ths impoundment is relatively shallow and portions of the lake are subjected to heavy growths of rooted aquatic plants. The Rice Lake Protection and Rehabilitation District was formed in 1977. In 1978 WDNR awarded the association a grant to conduct a management feasibility study on the lake. The feasibility study results and management alternatives report was published in 1983. This study documented the eutrophic condition of Rice Lake and the substantial sediment and vegetation problems common to many older impoundments. Mechanical harvesting of aquatic vegetation in problem areas was one of the management alternatives suggested in ths report. The Rice Lake District was also awarded a lake management planning grant in 1992 to assess weed harvesting operations on the lake, inventory land uses in the watershed and prepare a lake management plan. The Rice Lake District has also completed an aquatic plant management plan for harvesting, and applied for WDNR cost-sharing in the purchase of weed harvesting equipment.

Date  1996

Author   Aquatic Biologist

Historical Description

Source: 1964, Surface Water Resources of Barron County Rice Lake T35N, R11W, Sections-several

A hard water drainage lake on the Red Cedar River. Bear Creek and the outlet of Stump Lake also flow into Rice Lake from t-he north. The 11 -foot public utility dam on the outlet of Rice Lake is controlled by the Northern States Power Company. Fish populations include northern pike, walleyes, largemouth bass, bluegills, black crappies, rock bass, pumpkinseeds, bullheads, white suckers, redhorse and bowfin. Located within the city limits of Rice Lake, most of the lakeshore has been developed by 11 resorts and 278 cottages and homes. There are also three boat rental places on the lake. The lake edge provides some habitat for muskrats, nesting mallards, teal, wood ducks and coot. A few Canada geese may also be seen on the lake during migratory periods. A total of 11 public access roads in Rice Lake offer access. Also, five city parks offer picnicking, boat launching, camping and swimming facilities. There is a total of 0.69 miles of public frontage on Rice Lake; this figure includes the access sites, parks and six undeveloped platted accesses.

Surface Acres = 1,064.0, S.D.F. = 4.47, Maximum Depth = 22 feet

Date  1964

Author   Surface Water Inventory Of Wisconsin

Rice Lake, Brill and Red Cedar Rivers Watershed (LC10) Fish and Aquatic LifeRice Lake, Brill and Red Cedar Rivers Watershed (LC10) RecreationRice Lake, Brill and Red Cedar Rivers Watershed (LC10) Fish Consumption

Impaired Waters

Rice Lake (WBIC 2103900) was placed on the impaired waters list for total phosphorus and excess algal growth in 2012. The 2018 assessments showed continued excess algal growth; new chlorophyll-a sample data exceeded the 2018 WisCALM listing thresholds for the Recreation use. Based on the most updated information, no change to the existing impaired waters listing was needed.

Date  2017

Author  Ashley Beranek

Impaired Waters

Rice Lake (2103900) was placed on the impaired waters list for total phosphorus/excess algal growth in 2012. The 2016 assessments showed continued excess algal growth; chlorophyll sample data exceed 2016 WisCALM listing thresholds for the Recreation use, however, total phosphorus did not exceed REC thresholds. Total phosphorus and chlorophyll data were clearly below Fish and Aquatic Life listing thresholds. Based on the most updated information, no change in existing impaired waters listing is needed.

Date  2015

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.



Project Deliverable
agenda or attendance lists for workshops, planning meetings, and/or education events
Lake Management Plan Development

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

Rice Lake is located in the Brill and Red Cedar Rivers watershed which is 297.68 miĀ². Land use in the watershed is primarily forest (49.40%), agricultural (20.30%) and a mix of grassland (10.70%) and other uses (19.60%). This watershed has 264.90 stream miles, 6,282.34 lake acres and 15,832.05 wetland acres.

Nonpoint Source Characteristics

This watershed is ranked Medium for runoff impacts on streams, Medium 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

Rice 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.