Chippewa, Eau Claire
Fish and Aquatic Life
Elk Creek is a Class I trout stream for nearly 14 miles above Elk Creek Lake and Class 11 for 3.6
miles below the lake. The Class I portion of Elk Creek is listed as an outstanding resource water
(ORW) in NR 102, Water Quality Standards for Wisconsin Surface Waters. The state's
antidegradation policy prohibits new point source discharges to ORWs unless the effluent water
quality is better than background water quality found in the stream.
In Elk Creek, polluted runoff contributes to the degradation of critical trout habitat. Significant
streambank erosion was identified in 1978 above the lake at 19 sites in Dunn County and 35 sites in
Chlppewa County. About 80 percent of the sites in Dunn County were stabilized by a Trout
Unlimited project. Several barnyards located on the stream degrade water quality and fishery
habitat. Cropping close to the streambank is also a problem. Elk Creek has the potential to
improve as an excellent trout fishery if polluted runoff is controlled. As with Big Elk Creek, the
tributaries to Elk Creek contribute sediment, which could be controlled with best management
practices (Dwoznik, Holzer) .
The Chippewa County portion of Elk Creek is designated as a State Fishery Area. WDNR has
acquired strearnbank easements and fenced the stream to protect the bank from erosion (Holzer).
Control of sources of polluted runoff, such as cropping close to streams, would benefit the majority
of Elk Creek's reaches.
Author Aquatic Biologist
Elk Creek (from Chippewa/EauClaire boundary upstream to headwaters)was assessed during the 2018 listing cycle; new biological (macroinvertebrate or fish Index of Biotic Integrity (IBI) scores) sample data were clearly below the 2018 WisCALM listing thresholds for the Fish and Aquatic Life use. Temperature data also did not exceed thresholds. This water was meeting this designated use and was not considered impaired.
Author Ashley Beranek
Elk Creek 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 use due to values for total phosphorus that fall into the range expected for an aquatic community in poor health, therefore this water is listed as impaired.
Elk Creek [Mouth to inlet of Elk Creek Lake (mile 0-4.01)]: This segment has been listed as impaired since 2012 for Total Phosphorus and no listing change is needed.
Elk Creek [outlet of Elk Creek Lake to last crossing of Dunn/Eau Claire county line (mile 5.4-8.74)]: This segment is attaining its designated use is not considered impaired. This segment was proposed to be identified as a new Category 2 water in 2018.
Elk Creek [Dunn/Eau Claire county line to 10th Ave. (mile 8.63-8.97)]: The most recent assessment results show this segment is attaining its designated uses or there is not enough information to assess condition. This segment is not considered impaired.
Elk Creek [10th Ave. to headwaters (mile 8.97-25.33)]: Assessment results during the 2020 listing cycle show total phosphorus levels overwhelmingly high for healthy aquatic communities, like plants, fish, and bugs. However, biological sample data do not indicate impairment (i.e., no macroinvertebrate or fish Index of Biotic Integrity scored in the poor condition category). New chloride data and available temperature data also did not indicate impairment. Based on the most updated information, this water was proposed for the impaired waters list in 2020.
Author Ashley Beranek
Elk Creek (2120800) from its mouth upstream to inlet of Elk Creek Lake was placed on the impaired waters list for total phosphorus in 2012. The 2016 assessments showed continued impairment by phosphorus; total phosphorus sample data exceeded 2016 WisCALM listing criteria for the Fish and Aquatic Life use, however, available biological data did not indicate impairment (i.e. no macroinvertebrate or fish Index of Biotic Integrity (IBI) scored in the "poor" condition category). Based on the most updated information, no change in existing impaired waters listing is needed.
Author Aaron Larson
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.
ATTAINS Alternative Restoration Approach
The Wisconsin Clear Waters Chapter of Trout Unlimited (former Ojibleau Chapter) proposes to continue its work toward restoration of trout habitat on Elk Creek in Chippewa County. Major project elements to include: 1) streambank restoration, 2) installation of instream structure, 3) water monitoring, 4) information and education.
ATTAINS Alternative Restoration Approach
Trout Unlimited, Ojibleau Chapter, in conjunction with the TU National, Xcel Energy and DNR Fisheries Management proposes to continue progress toward restoration of streambanks and trout habitat within Elk Creek in Chippewa County. Major project elements to include: 1) surveys and monitoring, 2) rock placement, 3) construction and placement of lunker structures, 4) replanting, 5) printing, postage and signs.
ATTAINS Alternative Restoration Approach
Elk Creek, a tributary to the Lower Chippewa River, in south eastern Dunn county, is classified as an Outstanding Water Resource by the WDNR. This stream supports a healthy brook and brown trout population and offers excellent angling opportunities. Elk Creek flows through a glacial lacustrine deposit overlain by sand and gravel outwash. This situation causes widespread slope instability and therefore natural streambank erosion. This project would stabilize one of the worst eroding sites on this portion of the stram and overhead bank covers would provide additional habitat for trout. Sediment delivery to Elk Creek Lake would be reduced.
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|
|2120800||Elk Creek||10029332||ELK CREEK - 44m upstream of CTH N||1/1/2015||1/1/2015||Map||Data|
|2120800||Elk Creek||10032034||Elk Creek 300 m west (downstream) from County Hwy T||11/6/2009||10/15/2017||Map||Data|
|2120800||Elk Creek||10009315||Elk Creek 4 - Cth M (60th Ave)||1/1/2015||1/1/2015||Map||Data|
|2120800||Elk Creek||10037261||Elk Creek -- Access at Cty X||Map||Data|
|2120800||Elk Creek||10031896||Elk Creek-1130 ft DS of CTH M||1/1/2015||1/1/2015||Map||Data|
|2120800||Elk Creek||10037262||Elk Creek -- Access on 20th St||Map||Data|
|2120800||Elk Creek||10039675||Elk Creek at CTH M on corner of 26th St and 60th Ave||6/24/2009||6/24/2009||Map||Data|
|2120800||Elk Creek||10031897||Elk Creek-Upstream CTH X begining of habitat work||1/1/2015||1/1/2015||Map||Data|
|2120800||Elk Creek||10037259||Elk Creek -- Access at Cty N||Map||Data|
|2120800||Elk Creek||10037260||Elk Creek -- Access at Cty M||Map||Data|
|2120800||Elk Creek||10009316||Elk Creek 5- Parking Lot Off Cty Rd N||1/1/2015||1/1/2015||Map||Data|
|2120800||Elk Creek||10030130||Elk Creek at 35th Street||6/2/2009||7/31/2019||Map||Data|
|2120800||Elk Creek||10009314||Elk Creek 3- 20th Ave||1/1/2015||1/1/2015||Map||Data|
|2120800||Elk Creek||10022435||Elk Creek at STH 29||6/21/2005||1/1/2015||Map||Data|
|2120800||Elk Creek||10029333||ELK CREEK - 5m upstream of CTH T||1/1/2015||1/1/2015||Map||Data|
|2120800||Elk Creek||10029977||Elk Creek at Hwy 12||6/21/2005||9/2/2008||Map||Data|
|2120800||Elk Creek||10040492||Elk Creek at County Line Rd||6/5/2004||8/24/2006||Map||Data|
Elk Creek is located in the Muddy and Elk Creeks watershed which is 237.94 mi². Land use in the watershed is primarily agricultural (48.60%), forest (21.80%) and a mix of grassland (16.80%) and other uses (12.80%). This watershed has 313.30 stream miles, 590.92 lake acres and 11,999.60 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.This water is ranked High Stream for individual Rivers based on runoff problems and the likelihood of success from project implementation.