Peshtigo River, Middle Peshtigo and Thunder Rivers Watershed (GB10)
Peshtigo River, Middle Peshtigo and Thunder Rivers Watershed (GB10)
Peshtigo River (515500)
3.99 Miles
59.90 - 63.89
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.
No Classification, Impounded Flowing Water, Large River
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.
Fish and Aquatic Life - waters that do not have a specific use designation subcategory assigned but which are considered fishable, swimmable waters.
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.
Streams capable of supporting a warm waterdependent sport fishery. Representative aquatic life communities associated with these waters generally require cool or warm temperatures and concentrations of dissolved oxygen that do not drop below 5 mg/L.
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.


The Peshtigo River flows approximately 136 miles from its headwaters in Forest County southeast through Marinette County before its confluence with Green Bay. The portion within the Lower Peshtigo River Watershed is approximately 17 miles from the outlet of Lake Noquebay to Potato Rapids flowage and another 11.5 miles from the dam at the Peshtigo Flowage to the Bay of Green Bay. Two hydroelectric dams are located on the River, the Potato Rapids Dam and the Peshtigo Dam. Potato Rapids dam has a hydraulic head of 14 ft. and impounds 281 acres of the Peshtigo River to create the Potato Rapids Flowage. The Potato Rapids Flowage is relatively shallow with almost entirely natural shorelines with little development.

Date  2017

Author  Andrew Hudak

Peshtigo River, Middle Peshtigo and Thunder Rivers Watershed (GB10) Fish and Aquatic LifePeshtigo River, Middle Peshtigo and Thunder Rivers Watershed (GB10) RecreationPeshtigo River, Middle Peshtigo and Thunder Rivers Watershed (GB10) Fish Consumption

General Condition

Peshtigo River (miles 11.83-54.43) was assessed during the 2018 listing cycle; new total phosphorus and chloride sample data were clearly below the 2018 WisCALM listing thresholds for the Fish and Aquatic Life use. This water was meeting this designated use and was not considered impaired.

Date  2017

Author  Ashley Beranek

Impaired Waters

Peshtigo River (515500) from the approximate north end of Kirby Lake Ln to Forest Rd 1629 was assessed during the 2016 listing cycle; temperature data exceeded 2016 WisCALM listing thresholds for the Fish and Aquatic Life use.

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.



Monitor Targeted Watershed Area (TWA)
Lower Peshtigo River TWA
Nine Key Element Plan
Middle Peshtigo-Thunder Rivers PWS Plan - Nine Key Element Plan - The Middle Peshtigo-Thunder Rivers Priority Watershed Project plan assesses the nonpoint sources of pollution in the Middle Peshtigo-Thunder Rivers Watershed and guides the implementation of pollution prevention and control measures during the next 10 years. These control measures are needed to maintain the excellent water quality in the watershed and to meet specific water resource objectives for the Middle Peshtigo-Thunder Rivers Watershed. The watershed is unique in that it has a protection approach rather than the traditional remediation focus.
Monitor Fish Tissue
Monitor Peshtigo River (TMDL ID 173) to confirm fish consumption advice from before 2000.

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

Peshtigo River is located in the Middle Peshtigo and Thunder Rivers watershed which is 193.54 mi². Land use in the watershed is primarily forest (76.90%), wetland (15.10%) and a mix of agricultural (2.90%) and other uses (5.00%). This watershed has 251.85 stream miles, 1,120.60 lake acres and 16,300.88 wetland acres.

Nonpoint Source Characteristics

This watershed is ranked Low for runoff impacts on streams, Not Ranked 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

Peshtigo River is considered a No Classification, Impounded Flowing Water, Large River 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.

This classification includes waterbodies created by dams (mill ponds, reservoirs, flowages, and other impoundments) with a residence time of 14 days or more (under summer (June – Sept) mean low flow conditions with a 1 in 10 year recurrence interval (US EPA 2000)). Many natural lakes also have dams or water level control structures. However, to be included in the Impounded Flowing Waters category, the dam or water level control structure, must account for more than half of a waterbody’s maximum depth. Impoundments with a residence time of less than 14 days should be covered under the rivers and stream assessment methodology process.

Fisheries & Habitat

The Peshtigo Dam has a hydraulic head of 12 ft. and impounds 232 acres of the Peshtigo River to create the Peshtigo Flowage which extends to the tail waters of the Potato Rapids Dam. The Peshtigo Flowage is relatively shallow with most of the shoreline in residential development. The Peshtigo River from Green Bay up to the first dam provides seasonal runs of fish including Trout, Salmon, Walleye, Muskellunge, Northern Pike, Lake Sturgeon, and Suckers. The Lower Peshtigo River watershed has generally good to excellent water quality. Various chemical parameters are sampled quarterly from a Long Term Water Chemistry site on the Peshtigo River in Peshtigo.

Date  2017

Author  Andrew Hudak