Black Otter Lake (Hortonville), Wolf River - New London and Bear Creek Watershed (WR12)
Black Otter Lake (Hortonville), Wolf River - New London and Bear Creek Watershed (WR12)
Black Otter Lake (Hortonville) (315600)
78.16 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
High Phosphorus Levels, 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.
Class III Trout
Streams capable of supporting a seasonal coldwater sport fishery and which may be managed as coldwater streams.
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.


Black Otter Lake (Hortonville), in the Wolf River - New London and Bear Creek Watershed, is a 78.16 acre lake that falls in Outagamie County. This lake is managed for fishing and swimming and is currently not considered impaired.

Date  2011

Author   Aquatic Biologist

Historical Description

Source: 1973, Surface Water Resources of Outagamie County Black Otter Lake, T22N, R15E, Sec. 35, 36, Area = 74.7 acres, Depth = 9 feet, Secchi Disk = 5 feet, M.P.A. = 194 ppm.

This is a light brown hard water impoundment on Black Otter Creek located within the corporate limits of Hortonville. Bottom materials in the littoral zone consist of sand, silt, and muck. Very dense beds of a wide variety of aquatic vegetation are common. The lake is plagued by periodic winterkills due to the lack of fresh oxygen bearing water entering the pond during some winters. In the absence of winterkill conditions, the fishery consists of northern pike, largemouth bass, bluegills, and perch. The lake also serves as a waterfowl nesting and resting spot. Duck hunting is allowed at the upper end away from Hortonville. Development consists of eleven dwellings and one county park with a boat launching ramp. Black Otter Creek serves as both inlet and outlet to this impoundment.

Date  1973

Author   Surface Water Inventory Of Wisconsin

Black Otter Lake (Hortonville), Wolf River - New London and Bear Creek Watershed (WR12) Fish and Aquatic LifeBlack Otter Lake (Hortonville), Wolf River - New London and Bear Creek Watershed (WR12) RecreationBlack Otter Lake (Hortonville), Wolf River - New London and Bear Creek Watershed (WR12) Fish Consumption

Impaired Waters

Black Otter Lake (WBIC 315600) was placed on the impaired waters list for total phosphorus in 2016. The 2018 assessments showed continued impairment by phosphorus; total phosphorus sample data overwhelmingly exceeded the 2018 WisCALM listing thresholds for the Recreation use and Fish and Aquatic Life use. Chlorophyll-a sample data exceeded the REC use thresholds. Based on the most updated information the impairment of Excess Algal Growth was added to the Total Phosphorus listing.

Date  2017

Author  Ashley Beranek

Impaired Waters

Black Otter Lake (315600) was assessed during the 2016 listing cycle; total phosphorus sample data overwhelmingly exceeded 2016 WisCALM listing thresholds for the Recreation use, however chlorophyll data did not exceed REC thresholds. Total phosphorus and chlorophyll data did not exceed Fish and Aquatic Life thresholds.

Date  2015

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.



Nutrient Budget Development
ATTAINS Alternative Restoration Approach
Black Otter Lake District proposes to conduct an aquatic plant restoration project. A total of 6,300 plants will be planted in 2 inlet areas of Black Otter Lake, totaling an area of 5.1 acres. The project goals are 1) improve water quality of Black Otter Lake by removing excess nutrients, 2) stabilize shoreline and lake bottom, 3) filter sediments, 4) provide habitat for fish and wildlife, 5) discourage the growth of algae and other undesirable plants.

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

Black Otter Lake (Hortonville) is located in the Wolf River - New London and Bear Creek watershed which is 142.49 miĀ². Land use in the watershed is primarily agricultural (43.70%), wetland (25%) and a mix of grassland (15.10%) and other uses (16.30%). This watershed has 247.64 stream miles, 423.05 lake acres and 21,530.26 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

Black Otter Lake (Hortonville) 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.

Fish Stocking
Maps of Watershed