Devil's River, West Twin River Watershed (TK01)
Devil's River, West Twin River Watershed (TK01)
Devil's River (89900)
6 Miles
0 - 6
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-Warm 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.
This river is impaired
Impairment Unknown
Total Phosphorus
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 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.
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.


Devil's River is a tributary to the West Twin River and has a moderate gradient (22.7 feet per mile), good substrate and fair water quality. The lower four miles of the river are not classified as trout water, but the Maribel Sportsmens Club has stocked trout in this reach. A stream-shocking survey performed in 1984 on 300 yards of this reach showed that a few trout are still present. The rest of the river is dominated by forage fish including the redside dace (Clinostomus elongatus), which is a "watch" species in Wisconsin. Fisheries managers believe that agricultural runoff and stream intermittency are limiting the fishery throughout the entire stream. With management of nonpoint sources of water pollution, the lower four miles may have the potential to be a Class III trout stream.

From: Willman, Guy and Mike Toneys. 2001. The State of the Lakeshore Basin. Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Madison, WI.

Date  1994

Author   Aquatic Biologist

Historical Description

Hacker (1956) surveyed the river and found abundant forage minnows (redside dace, longnose dace, blacknose dace, redbelly dace, creek chub, white sucker, and common shiners) and a few gamefish (rock bass and black bullhead). Most of the fish that were captured were caught in lower sections of the river, while many sites in the upper river were dry or were small non-connected pools of water. Peeters (1984 and 1991) observed a similar mix of species when electrofishing to determine the overwintering survival of stocked brown and rainbow trout in the Devils River. Few trout were found and it appeared overwintering survival was low. Hogler and Surendonk (2003) found a diverse warmwater fish community during surveys conducted in 2002. Several species of dace, including redside dace, common shiner and creek chub dominated the catch. Much lower numbers of northern pike and stocked brown trout were captured. IBI scores indicated that the fish population was fair in the Devils River.

Date  2011

Author  Mary Gansberg

Devil's River, West Twin River Watershed (TK01) Fish and Aquatic LifeDevil's River, West Twin River Watershed (TK01) RecreationDevil's River, West Twin River Watershed (TK01) Fish Consumption

Impaired Waters

Devil's River was recently evaluated during the ten-year period of 2009 through 2018 for results that were reported to the USEPA for the 2020 Clean Water Act condition report. The waterbody is considered impaired, or in poor condition for designated uses which include the quality of fish and aquatic life, recreational use, and public health and welfare (fish consumption and related). Pollutants or problems encountered during sampling (impairments) are determined based on water quality standards outlined in Wisconsin 2020 Consolidated Assessment and Listing Methodology (WisCALM). Assessment results show water conditions that are potentially harmful for Aquatic Life use due to values for total phosphorus that fall into the range expected for an aquatic community in poor health, therefore this water is listed as impaired.

Devil's River (mile 0-6): Assessment results during the 2020 listing cycle show impairment by total phosphorus. Total phosphorus levels were found to be too high for healthy aquatic communities (plants, bugs, fish) according to 2020 WisCALM standards. Based on the most updated information, this water was proposed for the impaired waters list in 2020.

Devil's River (mile 6-15.77): This segment of the river is in either good condition for its designated uses or there is not enough information to assess condition.

Date  2019

Author  Ashley Beranek


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.



Navigability Determination
NE NW S28 T22N R21E; Devils River, trib;
Navigability Determination
SW SW S35 T22N R21E; Devils River, trib;
Rivers Management Grant
More funding is needed for nutrient management planning - $250,000 is critical, $500,000 would be excellent.
Runoff Grant
In order to minimize agricultural runoff from rural areas in the watershed it is necessary to provide funding for nutrient management programs and manure storage.
Runoff Grant
Adjust NRCS manure storage program so that each pit is eligible for up to $50,000 rather than only one or two per county getting $100,000.
Citizen-Based Stream Monitoring
Clean Boats/Clean Waters volunteers monitor lake and stream public access sites to educate water users of aquatic invasive species prevention steps.
Monitor Fish Community
Monitor invertebrates and fish in the upper reaches of Devils River (use warmwater IBI).
Information and Education
This watershed has the more traditional, smaller farms, so perhaps it would be a good one for encouraging grazing, fence rows, cover crops and other habitat enhancements.
Master Planning
Make water quality data accessible to county staff.
Rivers Management Grant
Increase funding for nutrient management. For example Manitowoc County used to receive $150,000 per year from DATCP, now it receives $22,000 annually.
Wastewater Monitoring or Management
In Manitowoc County’s portion of the watershed, two more manure storage facilities are needed. The old Priority Watershed program had lots of benefits and it has not been replaced with anything comparable.
Monitor Fish Community
Conduct a fish community survey and assess water condition status in the Devils River. Last survey was in 2002

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

Devils River is located in the West Twin River watershed which is 180.11 mi². Land use in the watershed is primarily agricultural (54.30%), grassland (21.50%) and a mix of wetland (10.60%) and other uses (13.80%). This watershed has 360.91 stream miles, 1,898.59 lake acres and 10,189.53 wetland acres.

Nonpoint Source Characteristics

This watershed is ranked High for runoff impacts on streams, Medium 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

Devil's River is considered a Cool-Warm Headwater 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.

Cool (Warm-Transition) Headwaters are small, sometimes intermittent streams with cool to warm summer temperatures. Coldwater fishes are uncommon to absent, transitional fishes are abundant to common, and warm water fishes are common to uncommon. Headwater species are abundant to common, mainstem species are common to absent, and river species are absent.

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