Fox River, Middle Fox River - Illinois Watershed (FX04)
Fox River, Middle Fox River - Illinois Watershed (FX04)
Fox River (Illinois) (742500)
6.75 Miles
85.23 - 91.98
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.
Macroinvertebrate, No Classification, Warm Mainstem
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 river is impaired
Impairment Unknown, PCBs Contaminated Fish Tissue
PCBs, 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.
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.
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.


The Barstow Impoundment is centrally located in downtown Waukesha. The impoundment itself, along with other areas upstream, are on the Federal 303(d) list of impaired waters. Sediment has collected and been concentrated behind the dam. The impoundment has seen an increased use by the public in the recent years with public recreation, boating, park access, and subsistence fishing. The Badgerland Ski Team hold scheduled practices and shows all summer within the impoundment. There is concern with the possible pollutant load in fish and sediment in this area. With such an increased use along this stretch of river, it is important to identify any possible sources of health risks to the public. There is a large sediment buildup behind dam and throughout the impoundment. It is a concern that this sediment is becoming suspended and translocating downstream from multiple sources. Previous sediment sampling indicated sediment toxicity issues. Follow-up sampling, including macroinvertebtrate and fish community sampling, will assist in clarifying the accuracy of the 303(d) listing and documenting impacts to the waterbody and to public health. The follow-up conclusions will also update the fish consumption advisory. From Hudak, Monitoring Proposal 2007

Date  2007

Author   Aquatic Biologist

Fox River, Middle Fox River - Illinois Watershed (FX04) Fish and Aquatic LifeFox River, Middle Fox River - Illinois Watershed (FX04) RecreationFox River, Middle Fox River - Illinois Watershed (FX04) Fish Consumption

Impaired Waters

The 2018 assessments of the Fox River - Below Barstow Impoundment (miles 171.45-175.32) showed continued impairment by phosphorus; new total phosphorus sample data exceeded the 2018 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 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.



ATTAINS Water Identified for Protection
This grant is to promote and educate the community by gaining community participation and obtain interest from local businessess and groups. This will be done by advertising, promotional workshops, surveys, distribution of printed materials, increased partnering with local schools, businesses, and civic groups. Also, have river restroation activities in conjunction with partnered community groups. Surveys to be done that will take place in relationship to demographics, interest, awareness, and education with the community.
Dam Safety or Removal
It is recommended that dam removal and habitat improvements be implemented to improve existing conditions. Where practical, habitat restoration and buffer implementation should be employed to provide multiple benefits including bank stabilization, water quality, fisheries, reduced sedimentation and nutrient loading.
Water Quality Planning
The Middle Fox River Watershed is the largest of the Fox River Basin watersheds (248 square miles), encompassing portions of Racine and Waukesha Counties, along with a very small portion of Walworth County. Portions of the Cities of Burlington, Muskego, New Berlin and Waukesha lie within the watershed, along with the Villages of Big Bend, Mukwonago, North Prairie, Rochester, Wales and Waterford. Land cover in the watershed is primarily rural, with agricultural (41%). Other rural uses include grasslands (18%), wetlands (14%) and forests (13%). Urban areas comprise nearly four percent of the land cover in the watershed . No streams in the watershed are listed on the 303(d) list. The main impacts to streams in this watershed include agricultural, development, sedimentation, channelization, elevated temperatures and stormwater runoff. It is recommended that dam removal and habitat improvements be implemented to improve existing conditions. Where practical, habitat restoration and buffer implementation should be employed to provide multiple benefits including bank stabilization, water quality, fisheries, reduced sedimentation and nutrient loading.
Nine Key Element Plan
Upper Fox River PWS Plan - Nine Key Element Plan - The Upper Fox River Priority Watershed Project plan assesses the nonpoint sources of pollution in the Upper Fox River Watershed and guides the implementation of nonpoint source control measures. These control measures are needed to meet specific water resource objectives for the Upper Fox River and its tributaries. The purpose of this project is to reduce the amount of pollutants originating from nonpoint sources that reach surface water and groundwater within the Upper Fox River Priority Watershed Project area.
Monitor or Assess Watershed Condition
Assemble a list of reported spills or other violations and develop site-specific recommendations to prevent future spills.
Water Quality Planning
Schedule and coordinate FPC Watershed Plan update meetings with stakeholders. a. Develop strategy to focus on stormwater, ground water, wetland restorations, industrial discharges, etc. b. Encourage adoption of stormwater best management practices.
Monitor Watershed (Status,Sources,Impairments)
Collect data on streams, wetlands and lakes in the watershed. Make information available in usable forms to technical staff and to the general public.
Permit Compliance Inventory
Issue and enforce industrial, municipal, construction, animal waste, wastewater, waterway and wetland permits in urban and non-urban areas in the watershed.
Sediment Remediation
Identify long-term sediment removal projects and other water quality projects and work with local authorities and other interested parties on strategies and implementation of these restoration efforts.
Improve Public Access
Promote access to recreational opportunities in and around the Upper Fox River watershed’s streams, lakes and wetlands. Promote educational opportunities and partnerships in and around these areas.
Engage Volunteers in Monitoring/Restoration
The Department of Natural Resources should continue to work cooperatively with local municipalities and other interested parties on water diversion issues.
Citizen-Based Stream Monitoring
Interested partners, including conservation & environmental groups, private stakeholders, local, state and federal agencies, etc., should work cooperatively to effectively relay water quality information to the public and to implement water quality initiatives and projects.
Monitoring Ecosystem
Develop watershed-specific monitoring protocol & benchmark goals to measure success; include evaluation of benchmark goals and monitoring results after a certain time period.
Citizen-Based Stream Monitoring
Potentially develop Frame Park Creek Technical Advisory Team (TAT) with known stakeholders including industrial businesses, the Fox River Commission, WDNR, and the City of Waukesha.
Permit Compliance Inventory
Conduct desk-top review of WPDES permitted facilities within watershed; update and contact non-permitted sites accordingly.
Natural Areas Protection
Officially name Frame Park Creek.
Wastewater Monitoring or Management
Delinieate Frame Park Creek sewershed. Review sewershed map with city of Waukesha staff.

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

Fox River is located in the Middle Fox River - Illinois watershed which is 247.72 mi². Land use in the watershed is primarily agricultural (35.50%), suburban (19.20%) and a mix of wetland (16.20%) and other uses (29.10%). This watershed has 316.41 stream miles, 6,810.35 lake acres and 22,750.85 wetland acres.

Nonpoint Source Characteristics

This watershed is ranked High 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

Fox River (Illinois) is considered a Macroinvertebrate, No Classification, Warm Mainstem 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.

Warm Mainstem waters are moderate-to-large but still wadeable perennial streams with relatively warm summer temperatures. Coldwater fishes are absent, transitional fishes are common to uncommon, and warm water fishes are abundant to common. Headwater species are common to absent, mainstem species are abundant to common, and river species are common to absent.

Fish Stocking