Whitewater Creek, Whitewater Creek Watershed (LR14)
Whitewater Creek, Whitewater Creek Watershed (LR14)
Whitewater Creek (813900)
8.08 Miles
0 - 8.08
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, Cool-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.
Jefferson, Walworth
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.
Supported Aquatic Life
Waters that support fish and aquatic life communities (healthy biological communities).
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.
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.

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.

Date  2002

Author   Aquatic Biologist

Whitewater Creek, Whitewater Creek Watershed (LR14) Fish and Aquatic LifeWhitewater Creek, Whitewater Creek Watershed (LR14) RecreationWhitewater Creek, Whitewater Creek Watershed (LR14) 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.



Best Management Practices, Implement
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.

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

Whitewater Creek is located in the Whitewater Creek watershed which is 75.30 miĀ². 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.This water is ranked High Stream for individual Rivers based on runoff problems and the likelihood of success from project implementation.

Natural Community

Whitewater Creek is considered a Macroinvertebrate, Cool-Warm Mainstem under the state's Natural Community Determinations.

Natural communities (stream and lake natural communities) represent model results and 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.

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