Fish and Aquatic Life
The Sinsinawa River rises in south central Grant County and flows into Illinois. Historically, it has had a good smallmouth bass fishery. In general, the river has good smallmouth bass habitat (WDNR, 1990). The smallmouth bass fishery, however, has periodically been affected by fish kills that can be attributed to manure spills and runoff events that lead to low dissolved oxygen levels (Mason et.al, 1993).
DNR fish surveys, conducted annually between 1989 and 1997 on an 1800 meter reach of the river, have found that the smallmouth bass population can be extremely variable. The greatest evidence of this can be seen by looking at the 1989 to 1991 data. In 1989, 445 bass were collected at this site. In 1990 and 1991, however, zero bass were found at the same site. Since this population crash in the early 1990’s, the smallmouth bass population in the Sinsinawa has been slowly recovering and recent field observations indicate the smallmouth bass fishery has improved (Wang, et.al., 1997, Kerr, 1998).
Water quality and habitat best management practices were installed at some locations on the river as part of the priority watershed project in the 1980’s. As with other streams in the watershed, water quality improvements due to the BMP installations has been masked by uncontrolled non-point pollution sources. Macroinvertebrate sampling over the years have shown that the Sinsinawa’s Hilsenhoff biotic index (HBI) ranges from good to fairly poor (Kroner et.al., 1992; Lillie and Schlesser, 1993). The fair and poor HBI ratings are a sign of indicate significant water quality impairment due to agricultural non-point sources of pollution.
Author Aquatic Biologist
A seepage- and spring-fed stream beginning two miles east of Louisburg and flowing in a southerly direction to enter Illinois two miles southwest of Hazel Green. Over 90 percent of this watershed has been cleared for agricultural purposes. Bank and channel erosion are severe problems. This is a fairly wide stream with rubble and boulders being the predominant bottom types. Smallmouth bass comprise a good fishery but fishing pressure is very light. Forage species common throughout the watershed include white suckers, bluntnose minnows, common shiners, creek chubs, and fantail darters. Game assets include muskrats, mink, raccoon, squirrels, deer, and a few migratory waterfOwl. Improved soil and water control practices could greatly benefit the water quality of this stream. There are no public lands along the stream, but it can be reached from five bridge crossings. Eight dwellings can be seen adjoining the stream.
From: Smith, Tom D., and Ball, Joseph R., Lake and Stream Classification Project. Surface Water Resources of Grant County, Department of Natural Resources, 1972. Surface Area = 21.09 acres, Length = 8.7 miles, Gradient 22 ft./mile, Flow = 10.5 c.f.s.
Author Aquatic Biologist
Sinsinawa River (940200) was assessed during the 2016 listing cycle; total phosphorus sample data exceed 2016 WisCALM listing criteria for the Fish and Aquatic Life use and biological impairment was observed (i.e. at least one macroinvertebrate or fish Index of Biotic Integrity (IBI) scored in the poor condition category).
Author Aaron Larson
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 Targeted Watershed Area (TWA)
Sinsinawa River Targeted Watershed Assessment: A Water Quality Report to Restore Wisconsin Watersheds (2020) Public Review Draft
Monitor or Propose 303(d) Listing
Fisheries has determined the Sinsinawa River to be a very productive smallmouth bass system that has been subject to periodic fish kills. This survey will help determine priority area in which to work. The data will also be used to determine whether streams in this system are achieving their attainable use and assess the overall health of the watershed as required by Section 303(d) and Section 305(b) of the Clean Water Act.
Water Quality Planning
Grant and Lafayette County Land Conservation Department staff should work with landowners in subwatersheds containing valuable, but threatened smallmouth bass fisheries and nursery streams to manage manure to avoid applications during high risk periods which could lead to runoff and fish kills. Specific areas include the Menominee River, Sinsinawa River, Shullsburg Branch, Madden Branch, and Pats Creek sub-watersheds.
Information and Education
Stress the importance of soil conservation and proper chemical and manure handling, storage and application procedures and increase available resources to implement related Best Management Practices.
Monitor Targeted Area
The following streams should be monitored and considered for addition to the impaired waters 303(d) list due to habitat impairment from sediment: Apple River, Coon Branch, Fair Play Creek, Madden Branch, Pats Creek, Shullsburg Branch, and Sinsinawa River. An assessment should be made to determine what action could help improve these streams.
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
|WBIC||Official Waterbody Name||Station ID||Station Name||Earliest Fieldwork Date||Latest Fieldwork Date||View Station||View Data|
|940200||Sinsinawa River||10021757||Sinsinawa River Smb 1 Fish Lane||1/1/2015||1/1/2015||Map||Data|
|940200||Sinsinawa River||10031773||Sinsinawa River abv confluence of unnamed trib T1N R1W STR: 34-5||1/1/2015||1/1/2015||Map||Data|
|940200||Sinsinawa River||223232||Sinsinawa River - Sinsinawa Rd. (Bi)||3/24/1979||10/18/2016||Map||Data|
|940200||Sinsinawa River||223236||Sinsinawa River - Center Rd. (Bi)||10/26/1998||10/26/1998||Map||Data|
|940200||Sinsinawa River||223323||Sinsinawa River - Louisburg Rd||10/26/1990||10/18/2016||Map||Data|
|940200||Sinsinawa River||10016802||Sinsinawa (Tributary) - Kirkwood Rd. Below Bridge 30 Yrds.||10/26/1990||10/26/1990||Map||Data|
|940200||Sinsinawa River||223252||Galena River (Sinsinawa River) - Center Rd||4/24/1979||10/18/2016||Map||Data|
|940200||Sinsinawa River||10046946||Sinsinawa River at farm drive off 1595 Center Drive||1/1/2015||8/3/2016||Map||Data|
|940200||Sinsinawa River||223251||Sinisinawa River - STH 11, near Hazel Green WI||10/5/1988||8/16/2016||Map||Data|
Sinsinawa River is located in the Galena River watershed which is 241.84 mi². Land use in the watershed is primarily agricultural (63.10%), grassland (26.40%) and a mix of forest (5.70%) and other uses (4.60%). This watershed has 572.33 stream miles, 65.18 lake acres and 681.01 wetland acres.
Nonpoint Source Characteristics
This watershed is ranked Not Ranked 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.