Big Cedar Lake, Cedar Creek Watershed (MI04)
Big Cedar Lake, Cedar Creek Watershed (MI04)
Big Cedar Lake (25300)
936.99 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.
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 headwater 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.
Aquatic Life
Waters that support fish and aquatic life communities (healthy biological communities).
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.


Big Cedar Lake, in the Cedar Creek Watershed, is a 936.97 acre lake that falls in Washington County. This lake is managed for fishing and swimming and is currently not considered impaired.

Date  2011

Author   Aquatic Biologist

Historical Description

Source: 1963, Surface Water Resources of Washington County Big Cedar Lake T10N, R19E, Surface Acres = 1,004, S.D.F. 2.25, Maximum Depth= 105 feet.

A large, elongate, glacial lake, occupying a valley between two high ridges left by the retreating Green Bay glacier. The lake consists of a deep south basin connected by a broad shallow terrace to a shallower north basin. Springs and seepage are major water sources and Cedar Creek originates here. Managed for largemouth and smallmouth bass, northern pike, panfish, and cisco. Yellow perch, bluegill, and black crappie are abundant panfishes. A sturgeon was caught here in 1961. Trout were stocked on an experimental basis in 1954 and 1955; inadequate harvest and lack of suitable public access resulted in the discontinuation of this program. Weed growth and stunted panfish are listed as major use problems, however, the lake morphometry somewhat lessens their importance. This is the largest lake in Washington County, yet has only limited access (see access map). About 100 acres of grass and tamarack marsh adjoin the lake at its northern end, encircling neighboring Gilbert Lake. Mallards, blue-wing teal, wood ducks, and Florida gallinule have been observed to nest here, and both puddle and diving ducks are common sights in spring and fall migration. High development of the shore line for home sites and increased spring and summer boating activity have reduced use of the lake for nesting in recent years. Hunting is permitted but enjoyed mostly by frontage owners.

Date  1963

Author   Surface Water Inventory Of Wisconsin

Big Cedar Lake, Cedar Creek Watershed (MI04) Fish and Aquatic LifeBig Cedar Lake, Cedar Creek Watershed (MI04) RecreationBig Cedar Lake, Cedar Creek Watershed (MI04) Fish Consumption

General Condition

Big Cedar Lake (25300) was assessed during the 2016 listing cycle; total phosphorus and chlorophyll sample data were clearly below 2016 WisCALM listing thresholds for the Recreation use and Fish and Aquatic Life use. This water was also assessed for chlorides and sample data were clearly below 2016 WisCALM chronic and acute listing criteria for the Fish and Aquatic Life use. This water is meeting these designated uses and is not considered impaired.

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.



Monitor Paleocore
Two sediment cores were taken at Big Cedar Lake in 1998. Diatom analysis was done.
Lake Classification
Phase 3 of Lake Classification Project. Public Hearing and Ordinance revision adoption for the lakes in Washington County. Dissemination of proposed ordinance changes to the other local units of government. Enforcement of revised zoning provisions related to shorelands, wetlands, and floodlands through current channels. Information to public of changes in Washington County codes by meetings, publicity, pamphlets, and brochures.
Lake Classification
Through this project Washington County will develop a waterbody classification system; review and revise shoreland-wetland and floodplain ordinances; and refine the ordinance provisions governing shorelands, wetlands and floodlands, incorporating the waterbody classification into them.
Land Acquisition
The Cedar Lakes Conservation Foundation will acquire 103 acres of land situated within a major subwatershed of and that drains toward Big Cedar Lake.
Land Acquisition
The Cedar Lakes Conservation Foundation, Inc. will acquire approximately 1.997 acres of land situated on the northwest shoreline of Big Cedar Lake in the town of West Bend, to reduce sedimentation and nutrient flows to the lake and to provide a safe public access to the lake.

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

Cedar Lake is located in the Cedar Creek watershed which is 129.26 miĀ². Land use in the watershed is primarily agricultural (33.50%), grassland (18.90%) and a mix of wetland (17.70%) and other uses (29.90%). This watershed has 176.82 stream miles, 1,897.46 lake acres and 13,111.81 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

Big Cedar Lake is considered a Two-Story 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.

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