Whitewater Lake, Whitewater Creek Watershed (LR14)
Whitewater Lake, Whitewater Creek Watershed (LR14)
Whitewater Lake (816800)
625.21 Acres
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.
Deep Lowland
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.
Shallow Lowland
Shallow lowland lake describes the depth and location of the lake in a watershed. These variables affect the lakes response to watershed variables.
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.
Aquatic Life
Waters that support fish and aquatic life communities (healthy biological communities).
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.


Whitewater Lake’s watershed is 5458 acres in size. In 2000 land uses in the watershed were: Agricultural 45%, Woodlands 21%, Urban 15% (10% of which is residential, 0.3% commercial). Part of the lake is within the Southern Unit of the Kettle Morraine, and part has private frontage that is developed. The majority of Whitewater Lake’s surface area consists of shallow bays; the deep holes are only about 1/10 of surface area.

Date  2009

Author   Aquatic Biologist

Historical Description

Source: 1961, Surface Water Resources of Walworth County,WI: WI-DNR Whitewater Lake, T-3, 4-N, R-15-E

A medium sized lake created by impounding the outlet of three small basins, managed for pan fish, largemouth bass, and northern pike; bullheads are also abundant. Carp are present but not in problem proportions. Rough fish removal operations are conducted periodically. Bullheads, bluegills, and black crappies have given the lake an excellent fishing reputation. Three Kettle Moraine Lake basins, Round, Bass, and Whitewater, were impounded originally in 1927 to form one take, Upper Whitewater (10 foot head). Legal action later forced removal of impounding gates, until the county acquired the dam site and created a park in 1946. The water level has never reached the height of the top of the dam. Presently the lake lies wholly within the boundaries of the Kettle Moraine State Forest and much frontage is state owned. Adequate access for boat launching is available from an old town road crossing the lake bed, and fishing, picnicking, and camping opportunities are offered by state land. Many shore dwellings have been constructed at the water line, and detract from the aesthetic value of the area. On the south end and in the east lobe nearly 100 acres of deep marsh may be found. Though the lake is large, boating is a problem because of its irregular shape. Several small (less than 3 acres) marsh ponds and artificial ponds dot the wetland areas and are often named by their owners. Most of these ponds are or. were managed as private fish hatcheries for warm water fishes (largemouth bass, pan fish) and are so indicated in Figure 2. Discussion of their potential will be limited to the review of private fish hatcheries in this county.

Surface Acres = 640, S.D.F. = 2.80, Maximum Depth = 38 feet.

Date  1961

Author   Surface Water Inventory Of Wisconsin

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

General Condition

Whitewater Lake (WBIC 816800) was placed on the impaired waters list for total phosphorus and excess algal growth in 2010. This water was assessed during the 2018 listing cycle; new total phosphorus and chlorophyll sample data were clearly below the 2018 WisCALM listing thresholds for the Recreation use and the Fish and Aquatic Life use. This water was meeting these designated uses and was not considered impaired.

Date  2017

Author  Ashley Beranek

General Condition

Whitewater Lake Beach was assessed for the 2018 listing cycle; E. coli data sample data were clearly below the 2018 WisCALM listing thresholds for the Recreation use. This beach was meeting this designated use and was not considered impaired.

Date  2017

Author  Ashley Beranek

General Condition

Whitewater Lake has elevated phosphorus resulting in low dissolved oxygen and algae blooms, likely affecting fish & aquatic life. Although the average TSI based on chlorophyll a (2005-2008) is 59, which places it in the ‘Fair’ category for a Deep Lowland lake, the average Total Phosphorus concentration (2005-2008) is .035 mg/l, which exceeds the TP impairment threshold of .03 mg/l for Deep Lowland lakes. Summer DO profiles showed less than 5 mg/l at 15 foot depths and below. Per the biologist, the DO drops more quickly and the thermocline is shallower here than in her other comparable lakes; in her best professional judgment the DO should not be dropping to below 5 mg/l before 18 feet. The biologist has also received frequent phone calls about algae blooms on this lake from the public. Citizen monitors frequently ranked their perception of water quality as ‘Enjoyment somewhat impaired due to algae.

During 2008-2009 the lake was devoid of macrophytes. The majority of Whitewater Lake’s surface area consists of shallow bays; the deep holes are only about 1/10 of surface area. Recommendations for future monitoring include documentation of algae blooms, chlorophyll a sampling, and additional discussion on the appropriate natural community based on the topography of the lake. Nonpoint sources are the primary contributors to Whitewater Lake. In 2000 land uses in the watershed were: Agricultural 45%, Woodlands 21%, Urban 15% (10% of which is residential, 0.3% commercial). Part of the lake is within the Southern Unit of the Kettle Morraine, and part has private frontage that is developed.

Date  2010

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.



Water Quality Modeling
Aquatic Plant Monitoring or Survey
Monitor plants on Whitewater Lake
Social Survey of Residents or Users
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.
Aquatic Plant Management Plan
The Whitewater-Rice Lakes Management District will hire a contractor to conduct a plant survey and update the aquatic plant management plan for Whitewater-Rice Lakes. The plant survey will include a point intercept survey totaling 362 points for Rice Lake and 625 points for Whitewater Lake.
Habitat Restoration - Shoreland
Walworth County will continue the Walworth County Lakes Specialist position for one year. The Lakes Specialist will provide educational information to lake residents regarding shoreline stabilization and shoreline restoration. The Lakes Specialist will also design shoreline restoration projects for interested landowners, provide technical assistance to contractors and hold workshops on shoreland restoration.
Protect Riparian or Shorelands
Walworth County will implement the Shoreland Protection Initiative project that includes: 1. A baseline lakeshore inventory; 2. ten lakshore demonstration sites; 3. the preparation of lake lawn and yard nutrient management plans; 4. fact sheets on lakeshore stabilization, shoreland buffers, shoreland regulations and lawn care; 5. an annual lakeshore inventory and distribution of shoreland regulation materials; 6. formation of a Walworth Co. Lakes Association and meetings with and newsletter pertaining to Walworth Co. lakes; 7. Workshops, information packets and news articles pertaining to the Fox river Basin Partnership Team Lakes Initiative; and 8. the formation of the Walworth County Land Conservancy.
Control Invasive Species
Evaluate Impact of Milfoil Weevils at Whitewater Lk
Data analysis, report production
Lake Management Plan Development
Data analysis, report production
Analyze Whitewater Lake Data Collected Through Previous Planning Grant
Hydrologic Budget Development
Data analysis, report production


Southeast Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission (SEWRPC) recommendations for Whitewater Lake and its watershed include onsite sewage system management, rural and urban polluted runoff management, livestock management, nutrient inactivation, dredging, sediment covering, and fish management (SEWRPC).

Date  2011

Author   Aquatic Biologist

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 Lake 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 Lake for individual Lakes based on runoff problems and the likelihood of success from project implementation.

Natural Community

Whitewater Lake is considered a Deep Lowland 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.

Deep lowland lake describes the depth and location of the lake in a watershed. These variables affect the lakes response to watershed variables.

Fisheries & Habitat

Whitewater Lake is a medium-sized lake with a good Warm Water Sport Fishery within the boundary of the Kettle Moraine State Forest. Dense cottage/home development exists along portions of the shoreline and water quality is impaired by runoff from surrounding lands and by failing septic systems. Dense Eurasian water milfoil and other aquatic plant growth have also impaired water uses.

The Whitewater Lake Management District has an approved aquatic plant management plan and WDNR has completed a Sensitive Areas Investigation of the lake (SEWRPC). WDNR has funded intensive monitoring by the U.S. Geological Survey through the Lake Management Planning Program. The results are available in the report Hydrology and Water Quality of Whitewater and Rice Lakes in Southeastern Wisconsin, 1990-1991, published in 1993.

Date  2002

Author   Aquatic Biologist