Marsh Creek, Marsh Creek Watershed (LR05)
Marsh Creek, Marsh Creek Watershed (LR05)
Marsh Creek (797700)
7.79 Miles
7.44 - 15.23
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.
Cool-Cold Headwater
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.
Streams capable of supporting a warm waterdependent forage 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.
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 forage 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.
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.


Rock River Water Quality Management Plan, Lower Rock River Appendix. WT-668-2002. South Central Region, WDNR.

The Marsh Creek watershed is a small agricultural watershed. Much of the middle and upper reaches of the creek are ditched and straightened, destroying habitat and making the stream silt-laden and sluggish. Cropland erosion is presently the primary cause of water quality problems. The reach below State Highway 184 to the Rock River flows through a more hilly, diverse terrain and has a smallmouth bass fishery. Water quality in the lower half of the stream may benefit by the application of best management practices.

Date  2002

Author   Aquatic Biologist

Historical Description

Originating from a spring in Section 22, this small stream flows southwest and joins the Sugar River below Albany. The upper end of Marsh Creek runs through 20 acres of fresh meadow, while the lower portion flows through hardwoods and pasture. Silt is the primary bottom type with gravel, rubble, sand and detritus also present. The water is clear. but in dry periods the flow is barely discernible. Instream vegetation consists of coontails.

A stream improvement project has completed some fencing and bank repair in Section 33 in an effort to increase the stream's trout potential. Stable, undercut banks provide good instream cover, but insufficient flow at crucial times restricts the trout habitat to a very marginal Class III. Brown trout have been stocked on occasion, but management is generally for forage species. Northern pike and many other species common to the Sugar River can also be found in Marsh Creek. Wildlife values consist of a few muskrats. Public access includes three road crossings.

Fish Species: Brown trout, central mudminnow, northern pike, stoneroller unspecified, carp, hornyhead chub, common shiner, bigmouth shiner, spotfin shiner, bluntnose minnow, creek chub, white sucker, shorthead redhorse, black .bullhead, brook stickleback, Johnny darter.

Surface Acres = 0.4, Length = 2.8 Miles, Gradient = 9 ft./mi., Base Discharge = 9 cu ft./sec

Bush, D.M., R. Cornelius, D. Engle, and C.L. Brynildson. 1980. Lake and Stream Classification Project. Surface Water Resources of Green County, 2nd Edition. Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Madison, Wisconsin.

Date  1980

Author   Surface Water Inventory Of Wisconsin

Historical Description

From: Ball, Joseph R., and Ronald J. Poff, Lake and Stream Classification Project. Surface Water Resources of Rock County, Department of Natural Resources, 1970.

Surface Acres = 26.24, Miles -13.2, Gradient = .7.6 feet per mile.

A warm water stream flowing eastward and entering the Rock River
north of Janesville. The upper one-half of the stream has been straightened. The fishery is composed primarily of forage species although lower portions of the stream support a few smallmouth bass and northern pike. There are 161 acres of adjoining fresh meadow wetland, about 8 percent of which is wooded. Muskrats are present and migrating waterfowl are commonly observed. Access is available from the Rock River and from five town road crossings.

Date  1970

Author   Surface Water Inventory Of Wisconsin

Marsh Creek, Marsh Creek Watershed (LR05) Fish and Aquatic LifeMarsh Creek, Marsh Creek Watershed (LR05) RecreationMarsh Creek, Marsh Creek Watershed (LR05) Fish Consumption


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.



Citizen-Based Stream Monitoring
Collect chemical, physical, and/or biological water quality data to assess the current overall stream health. The data can inform management decisions and may be used to identify impaired waters for biennial lists.
Restore Wetlands
Restore Wetlands

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

Marsh Creek is located in the Marsh Creek watershed which is 43.73 miĀ². Land use in the watershed is primarily agricultural (71.20%), forest (13.40%) and a mix of grassland (10.60%) and other uses (4.90%). This watershed has 38.92 stream miles, 39.48 lake acres and 389.00 wetland acres.

Nonpoint Source Characteristics

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

Marsh Creek is considered a Cool-Cold Headwater 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.

Cool (Cold-Transition) Headwaters are small, usually perennial streams with cold to cool summer temperatures. Coldwater fishes are common to uncommon (<10 per 100 m), transitional fishes are abundant to common, and warm water fishes are uncommon to absent. Headwater species are abundant to common, mainstem species are common to absent, and river species are absent.