Fox Lake, Beaver Dam River Watershed (UR03)
Fox Lake, Beaver Dam River Watershed (UR03)
Fox Lake (835800)
2713.34 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.
Shallow 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.
This lake is impaired
Degraded Habitat, Excess Algal Growth, Eutrophication
Total Phosphorus, Sediment/Total Suspended Solids
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.
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.
Default FAL
Fish and Aquatic Life - Default Waters do not have a specific use designation subcategory but are considered fishable, swimmable waters.


Fox Lake is smaller (2,625 acres) and somewhat deeper (max. depth 19 ft.) than Beaver Dam Lake but has similar problems. Those problems include excessive algae growth and blooms, carp degrading the fishery and water quality, turbidity and high nutrient loads. As a result, the lake's once diverse sport fishery has declined. Fox Lake was chosen for a study to determine the effects of carp on a lake. For more information, refer to Phosphorus Loadings from Carp and Estimated Water Quality Changes With Various Levels of Carp Control For Fox Lake, Dodge County (Sesing, 1993) and 1993 Fox Lake Carp Exclosure Project (Dreher, 1994).

The Fox Lake Wastewater Control Commission operates an aerated lagoon-adsorption pond groundwater wastewater treatment system (Eagan, 1989). In 1999, a large rain event resulted in a sewage bypassing event at the facility.

Date  2002

Author   Aquatic Biologist

Historical Description

Source: 1965, Surface Water Resources of Dodge County Fox Lake T13N, R13E

A large, fertile lake partially of natural origin, now impounded by an 11-foot dam on the outlet stream which drains to Beaver Dam Lake. The first permanent settlement in Dodge County was established on the north shore of Fox Lake in 1838, and a dam and sawmill were constructed on Mill Creek in 1845 which floodedthe large marsh to the south and east. Increased water levels and wave action have diminished the marsh and although the shoreline is still retreating, over 1, 500 acres remain which provide habitat for waterfowl, muskrat and pheasants. Mallards, black ducks, blue-winged teal, wood ducks, and coot have been-observed to raise broods here, and the thousands of ducks which visit the lake during the fall often provide good shooting. Seven islands are located in the lake, most of which are at least partially developed. A heron rookery is located on Brushwood Island. Inlet streams include Alto and Drew Creeks, although most runoff entering the lake drains from the extensive watershed to the west. Seepage also contributes to maintain water levels. Littoral materials vary from muck in former marsh areas to extensive rock and gravel bars in other sections. The third largest lake in Dodge County, Fox Lake has great potential for boating and water-skiing. It owes most of its popularity, however, to its ability to provide excellent fishing. In 1874-75 - 20,981 pounds of northern pike, walleye and perch were shipped to Milwaukee. The lake became a population vacationing, spot in southeastern Wisconsin, and 17 resorts and nearly 400 cottages and homes are located on the shoreline.Public access is provided by a town park on the northwest and a city park on the southeast, each equipped with boat launching and parking facilities. Including a 50-foot town road ending near the Drew Creek Inlet, 670 feet of the shoreline is in public ownership. In the past, Fox Lake provided a reliable source of well oxygenated water which was utilized on several occasions to save downstream Beaver Dam Lake from freezing out. Natural aging hastened by addition of nutrients through intensive farming in the watershed and developments on the lake itself is believed to be responsible for the trend established in the winter of 1958-59 when Fox Lake suffered its first winterkill. Carp, bullheads, and crappies increased rapidly, despite the stocking and rough fish removal programs conducted by the Wisconsin Conservation Department. Bullheads and carp have contributed to increase turbidity, which, accompanied by large algae blooms, has led to a marked reduction of rooted vegetation. Conditions approached critical levels in the winter of 1961-62, and a partial kill occurred in 1964-65. Steps must be initiated to retard and reverse this trend. Watershed rehabilitation and the establishment of a sanitary district demand top priority. Chemical treatment to remove undesirable species would provide a solution to the rough fish problem.

Surface Acres = 2,120, S.D.F. = 2.19, Maximum Depth = 19 feet

Date  1965

Author   Surface Water Inventory Of Wisconsin

Fox Lake, Beaver Dam River Watershed (UR03) Fish and Aquatic LifeFox Lake, Beaver Dam River Watershed (UR03) RecreationFox Lake, Beaver Dam River Watershed (UR03) Fish Consumption

Impaired Waters

Fox Lake (WBIC 835800) was placed on the impaired waters list for total phosphorus and sediment/total suspended solids in 2006. The TMDL for these pollutants was approved by the U.S. EPA in 2011. The 2018 assessments showed continued impairment by phosphorus; new total phosphorus and chlorophyll-a sample data exceeded the 2018 WisCALM listing thresholds for the Recreation use and Fish and Aquatic Life use. Based on the most updated information, no change in the existing impaired waters listing was needed.

Date  2017

Author  Ashley Beranek

Impaired Waters

Fox Lake (835800) was placed on the impaired waters list for total phosphorus and sediment/total suspended solids in 2006. The TMDL for these pollutants was approved by the U.S. EPA in 2011. The 2016 assessments showed continued impairment by phosphorus; total phosphorus sample data overwhelmingly exceed 2016 WisCALM listing thresholds for the Recreation use, and chlorophyll data exceed REC thresholds. Total phosphorus and chlorophyll data do not exceed Fish and Aquatic Life thresholds. Based on the most updated information, no change in existing impaired waters listing is needed.

Date  2015

Author  Aaron Larson

Impaired Waters

Waterbody Name: Fox Lake
Waterbody ID Code (WBIC): 835800
County (ies): Dodge
Impaired Stream Reach: Entire 2,625 acres
Type of impairment (water quality standards violations [eg, pH, DO, etc.], not meeting codified use [e.g. WWFF should be Cold II], eutrophication, etc.]:
Physical substrate habitat alterations
Low flow alterations (dam)
Fish barrier (dam)
Excess algal growth
Eurasian water milfoil
Fish kills
Cause of impairment (e.g. temperature, nutrients, sediment, BOD, toxics, etc.):
Source of impairment (e.g. point source, nonpoint source, internal load, unknown, etc.): Non-point
Internal load
Description of monitoring conducted (including dates, results, quality of data and reports):

Sesing, M., 1993. Phosphorus Loadings from Carp and Estimated Water Quality Changes with Various Levels of Carp Control for Fox Lake, Dodge County. Unpublished report, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

Asplund, T.R., and J.A. Johnson. 1996. Alternative stable states in Fox Lake, Dodge Co., WI: Results of 1995 plankton and water quality monitoring. WI DNR Bureau of Integrated Science Services. 34 pp.

Asplund, T.R., and P.J. Garrison. 2002. The effectiveness of the partial drawdown of Fox Lake, Dodge County, Wisconsin. WI DNR Bureau of Integrated Science Services. 32 pp.

Dreher, R., 1994. 1993 Fox Lake carp exclosure project. Unpublished report, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

1997 Fox Lake sediment mapping study by Jim Killian/Clay Wible, DNR Central office

Location of supporting data (electronic and hard copy files):
Horicon office
Reviewer’s Name:
Laura Stremick-Thompson, Dan Heim, Ruth Johnson
Date Reviewed:

Date  2006

Author  Lisa Helmuth


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.



Lakes Planning Grant
Informational Meetings
Aquatic Plant Management Plan
Develop/Distribute Newsletter
Issue News/Media Release
Lake Management Plan Development
Fish Management, Access
Fox Lake Inland Lake Protection & Rehabilitation District will work to reduce rough fish populations in a continuing attempt to increase abundance of rooted aquatic plants. Progress will also be monitored via a comprehensive fish survey of Fox Lake.
Shoreland Ordinance
Dodge County Planning & Development Department is interested in revising the Dodge County Shoreland Zoning Regulations and adopting a "waterway" classification system to better regulate and manage the county's water resources.
Lakes Protection Grant
The Fox Lake Inland Lake Protection and Rehabilitation District proposes to restore a balanced fishery in Fox Lake. Project activities include approximately two years of spot rough fish treatments, fish pick up and disposal, and accompanying electrofishing surveys.

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

Monitoring Studies

Fox Lake is a 1,022-hectare (2,625-acre) lake located in northwestern Dodge County. In the 1980’s and 1990’s, Fox Lake experienced a rapid shift in water quality from a clear-water lake to one characterized by poor-water transparency, increased algae populations, loss of aquatic macrophytes, loss of wetland fringe, and declining sports fishery. In the mid 1990’s, the Fox Lake Inland Lake Protection and Rehabilitation District (FLILPRD), in partnership with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) began implementation of a long-range management project to shift the lake back into a clear-water state.

Date  2012

Author  Lisa Helmuth

Watershed Characteristics

Fox Lake is located in the Beaver Dam River watershed which is 290.25 miĀ². Land use in the watershed is primarily agricultural (62.90%), wetland (13.80%) and a mix of grassland (9.50%) and other uses (13.90%). This watershed has 421.30 stream miles, 3,607.03 lake acres and 29,349.96 wetland acres.

Nonpoint Source Characteristics

This watershed is ranked Not Available for runoff impacts on streams, Not Available 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 Lake is considered a Shallow Lowland 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.

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