Scarboro Creek, Kewaunee River Watershed (TK03)
Scarboro Creek, Kewaunee River Watershed (TK03)
Scarboro Creek (91000)
3.02 Miles
3 - 6.02
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-Cold 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.
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.
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.
Default FAL
Fish and Aquatic Life - Default Waters do not have a specific use designation subcategory but are considered fishable, swimmable waters.


Scarboro Creek is a clear stream that flows 15 miles from its headwaters in Brown County to its confluence with the Kewaunee River. The stream gradient is about 10 feet per mile until the creek flows into the Kewaunee Valley, where the gradient increases to 30 feet per mile.

The lower four miles are Class II brown trout waters and this reach is stocked annually. This segment also supports brook trout where the gradient is steepest. There is some carryover of these trout, and trout eggs have been observed on the bottom. The three miles above Valley Road supports a fish community in transition, with some warmwater species present but forage species dominant. Above Hill Road, the stream narrows and supports mainly forage fishes. Most of the stream in Brown County is intermittent. In the lower portions of Scarboro Creek, public access is limited to one road crossing. Access via road crossings increases above Valley Road.

Water quality data indicate the trout waters on Scarboro Creek are degraded, but that the stream has excellent potential for improvement. Macroinvertebrates collected in 1989 represented species typically associated with fair to fairly-poor water quality. Sedimentation is likely affecting trout reproduction. Flow and temperature conditions are excellent. Dissolved oxygen conditions are probably degraded at times, as indicated by the aquatic insects in the stream. Nutrients and organic matter from nonpoint sources of water pollution are associated with this problem. In addition, turbidity could be affecting the fish. Overall water quality in this portion of the creek is fair to good. Data indicate water quality has been degraded in the three-mile segment between Valley and Hill Roads. Overall water quality is fair, but dissolved oxygen concentrations are often below the standard established for the protection of warmwater fishes. Problems worsen in a 2.5 mile long stream segment above Hill Road. Water quality here is poor and dissolved oxygen depression more marked. Some of these threats to fish may be related to natural flow and temperature conditions, but some is undoubtedly due to nutrient enrichment and decomposition of organic materials from agricultural sources. Turbidity is also a concern in these upper sections of Scarboro Creek, however, sedimentation does not appear to be much of a problem.

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

Date  2001

Author  Michael Toneys

Scarboro Creek, Kewaunee River Watershed (TK03) Fish and Aquatic LifeScarboro Creek, Kewaunee River Watershed (TK03) RecreationScarboro Creek, Kewaunee River Watershed (TK03) Fish Consumption

General Condition

Scarboro Creek was assessed during the 2018 listing cycle; new total phosphorus and biological (fish Index of Biotic Integrity (IBI) scores) sample data were clearly below the 2018 WisCALM listing thresholds for the Fish and Aquatic Life use. This water was meeting this designated use and was not considered impaired.

Date  2017

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.



Monitor Aquatic Biology
Conduct biological (mIBI or fIBI) monitoring on Scarboro Creek, WBIC: 91000, AU:10175
Navigability Determination
SE SE S12 T23N R22E; ; Mapped in Brown County also

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

Scarboro Creek is located in the Kewaunee River watershed which is 142.12 miĀ². Land use in the watershed is primarily agricultural (61.10%), grassland (17.30%) and a mix of wetland (10.10%) and other uses (11.60%). This watershed has 292.03 stream miles, 540.90 lake acres and 7,312.87 wetland acres.

Nonpoint Source Characteristics

This watershed is ranked High for runoff impacts on streams, Not Ranked 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

Scarboro Creek is considered a Cool-Cold 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 (Cold-Transition) Headwaters are small, usually perennial streams with cold to cool summer temperatures. Coldwater fishes are common to uncommon (<10 per 100 m), transitional fishes are abundant to common, and warm water fishes are uncommon to absent. Headwater species are abundant to common, mainstem species are common to absent, and river species are absent.