Fish and Aquatic Life
Rock River Water Quality Management Plan, Lower Rock River Appendix. WT-668-2002. South Central Region, WDNR.
Whitewater Creek flows north out of Whitewater Lake to its confluence with the Bark River. From Whitewater Lake to Tripp Lake at Whitewater, water quality is considered good. A portion of this reach, from Bluff Creek downstream to Willis Ray Road (1.9 miles) has the potential to become Class II trout water; additional land acquisition and habitat improvement would be necessary to achieve this potential use.
The reach from Tripp Lake to the Jefferson County line flows through Cravath Lake and the city of Whitewater. Water quality was historically degraded by poorly treated effluent from the old Whitewater wastewater treatment plant, which was upgraded in 1982. As the quality of the effluent improved, the quality of the river, now judged as fair, improved as well. Today the primary problems include the lack of comprehensive stormwater management planning for the city of Whitewater and old or outdated floodplain zoning maps. The City of Whitewater has recently expanded its sewer service area, which will result in increases in impervious surface areas and enhanced stormwater volumes. Whitewater Creek and its riparian areas should be protected by updated floodplain zone maps, conservancy zoning of sensitive lowland and adjacent areas, and comprehensive stormwater management planning that emphasizes water quality and reducing peak storm water flows (WDNR).
The reach from the Jefferson County line to its confluence with the Bark River flows through agricultural land where water quality is affected by runoff contaminated with solids, pesticides, fertilizer, and other agricultural by-products. About seven miles of tributary streams are ditched and straightened and most wetlands are drained. The fishery consists of forage fish and panfish; rough fish are problematic in the lower end of the stream.
Author Aquatic Biologist
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
Partnering with property owners, Whitewater-Rice Lake Management District is sponsoring a grant to implement water quality and habitat best practices from Wisconsin's Healthy Lakes Implementation Plan. Best practices, including fish sticks, 350 sq. ft. native plantings, diversions, rock infiltration, and/or rain gardens, will be designed and installed according to the Healthy Lakes fact sheets, technical guidance and grant application.
Monitor Aquatic Biology
The Lower Rock River Basin Team should conduct water quality and biotic index monitoring on Bluff Creek and Whitewater Creek above Tripp Lake.
Sewer Service Area Planning
Whitewater SSA Plan
Habitat Restoration - Shoreland
The Lower Rock River Basin Team should investigate the feasibility of land acquisition and/or habitat improvement for a trout fishery along a portion of Whitewater Creek.
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
|WBIC||Official Waterbody Name||Station ID||Station Name||Earliest Fieldwork Date||Latest Fieldwork Date||View Station||View Data|
Whitewater Creek is located in the Whitewater Creek watershed which is 75.30 mi². Land use in the watershed is primarily agricultural (58%), forest (13.30%) and a mix of wetland (10.10%) and other uses (18.60%). This watershed has 92.85 stream miles, 886.52 lake acres and 3,995.32 wetland acres.
Nonpoint Source Characteristics
This watershed is ranked Medium for runoff impacts on streams, Low 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.