Lake Chetac, Red Cedar Lake Watershed (LC11)
Lake Chetac, Red Cedar Lake Watershed (LC11)
Lake Chetac (2113300)
2399.64 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.
Shallow Lowland
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.
Shallow Lowland
Shallow lowland lake describes the depth and location of the lake in a watershed. These variables affect the lakes response to watershed variables.
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.


Chetac Lake is a 1,920 acre drainage lake located just northeast of the Village of Birchwood on the headwaters of the Red Cedar River. Ths large lake is somewhat shallow with a mean depth of only 14 feet. Chetac lake has a hstory of supporting an abundant growth of rooted aquatic vegetation and experiences periodic algae blooms. Historic water quality data suggests the lake is in an eutrophic condition with TSI values in the range of 64. Current water quality data is laclung on Chetac Lake and it would be desirable to document the trophic condition of this important headwater lake. Limited analysis of fish tissue has been conducted on Chetac Lake but no advisory exists at the present time.

Date  1996

Author   Aquatic Biologist

Historical Description

A hard water, drainage lake on the headwaters of the Red Cedar River. Its fish population includes walleyes, northern pike, largemouth and smallmouth bass, bluegills, black crappies, perch, pumpkinseeds, rock bass and bullheads. The lake has an abundant weed and algae growth that may eventually reach problem proportions. This condition is a reflection of the lake's highfertility and more than likely is a result of many sources of domestic pollution on the lake. Lake level is maintained by a dam, controlled by Washburn County at the outlet of Birch Lake which is immediately below this lake on the drainage system. The estimated normal outlet flow is 35.0 cfs. A total of six permanently flowing streams enter Lake Chetac. Two of these feeders, Benson Creek and the outlet of Cedar Springs Hatchery have cold vater trout fisheries, while Knuteson and Squaw Creek have warm water fisheries.

The remaining two streams Malviney and another unnamed stream in Section 16 are mainly minnow streams. The wetlands along the outlets of these streams provide some habitat for waterfowl and muskrats. Other wetlands are several small marshy bays adjoining the lake. Beaver are also present. The lake receives a large number of migratory ducks in the spring and fall. The most common nesting ducks are the mallards, black ducks, blue-winged teal and wood ducks. This is one of the more extensively developed lakes, having 36 resorts and boat rentals and 72 cottages. There is a small tent camping and picnicking area near the outlet. Public access sites are located on the northeast and on the southeast shore off the corner of the town road. Both have only limited parking areas. There are seven other platted access sites, however, they are generally too steep to be developed. Public frontage amounts to a total of 0.36 miles of shoreline including a
parcel of Sawyer County owned frontage on the south shore near the outlet. A privately operated camping area is also located on the lake.Source: 1969, Surface Water Resources of Sawyer County Chetac Lake, T37N, R9W Surface Acres = 2,148.6, Maximum Depth = 30 feet, M.P.A. = 55 ppm, Secchi Disk = 6 feet.

Date  1969

Author   Surface Water Inventory Of Wisconsin

Lake Chetac, Red Cedar Lake Watershed (LC11) Fish and Aquatic LifeLake Chetac, Red Cedar Lake Watershed (LC11) RecreationLake Chetac, Red Cedar Lake Watershed (LC11) Fish Consumption

Impaired Waters

Lake Chetac (WBIC 2113300) was listed for total phosphorus in 2014. The 2018 assessments showed continued impairment by phosphorus; new total phosphorus and chlorophyll-a sample data exceeded the 2018 WisCALM listing thresholds for the Recreation use and Fish and Aquatic Life use. Based on the most updated information, no change in the existing impaired waters listing was needed.

Date  2017

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
Diagnostic/Feasibility Assessment
Alum Feasibility Study
Project Deliverable
Final Report
Water Quality Modeling
Monitor Water Quality or Sediment

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 Chetac is located in the Red Cedar Lake watershed which is 140.01 miĀ². Land use in the watershed is primarily forest (74%), wetland (11.20%) and a mix of open (7.40%) and other uses (7.40%). This watershed has 167.65 stream miles, 6,893.24 lake acres and 7,428.58 wetland acres.

Nonpoint Source Characteristics

This watershed is ranked Low for runoff impacts on streams, Medium for runoff impacts on lakes and Low for runoff impacts on groundwater and therefore has an overall rank of Low. 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

Lake Chetac is considered a Shallow Lowland 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.

Shallow lowland lake describes the depth and location of the lake in a watershed. These variables affect the lakes response to watershed variables.

Maps of Watershed