Watershed - Mineral Point and Sudan Branches (SP09)
Mineral Point and Sudan Branches Watershed

Details

The Mineral Point and Sudan Branches Watershed lies in southwestern Iowa County and dips into extreme northern Lafayette County. The majority of the 70,300 acre (110 mi2) watershed is agriculture (row crops or pastureland), with scattered woodlands and grasslands making up a majority of the balance. As the name of the watershed implies, Mineral Point Branch and Sudan Branch are the two main streams that drain this area.

Mineral Point Branch has its headwaters along the Military Ridge just west of Dodgeville and flows 29 miles southward into Lafayette County where it joins the Pecatonica River a couple of miles northwest of Calamine.

The Sudan Branch likewise has its headwaters along the Military Ridge just east of Cobb, near the village of Linden. The Sudan Branch flows 18 miles southeast and joins the Mineral Point Branch about 3 miles southwest of the village of Mineral Point.

The major water quality problems in the watershed are from agricultural nonpoint source pollution. Additionally, mining was a major industry in the Mineral Point area. Waste piles that remain from lead, zinc, and copper mining as well as runoff from mines has degraded water quality, especially for Brewery Creek. See the discussion of Brewery Creek for more details on efforts to rehabilitate this stream.

In 2018 a targeted watershed approach plan was published. For more information go to the TWA Project online.

Date  2018

Population, Land Use

There are two municipalities in the watershed: Linden and Mineral Point. In addition to the discharges from these two municipalities, Bloomfield Manor, an assisted living facility, also discharges to surface water in the watershed. The population of this watershed is not expected to grow significantly (less than 2%) over the next 20 years.

Date  2010

Ecological Landscapes for Mineral Point and Sudan Branches Watershed

Ecological Landscapes

The Southwest Savanna Ecological Landscape is located in the far southwestern part of the state. It is characterized by deeply dissected topography, unglaciated for the last 2.4 million years, with broad open hilltops and river valleys, and steep wooded slopes. The climate is favorable for agriculture but the steep slopes limit it to the hilltops and valley bottoms. Soils are underlain with calcareous bedrock. Soils on hilltops are silty loams, sometimes of shallow depth over exposed bedrock and stony red clay subsoil. Some valley soils are alluvial sands, loams, and peats. Some hilltops are almost treeless due to the thin soil while others have a deep silt loam cap. Historic vegetation consisted of tall prairie grasses and forbs with oak savannas and some wooded slopes of oak. Almost three-quarters of the current vegetation is agricultural crops with lesser amounts of grasslands, barrens, and urban areas. The major forest types are oak-hickory and maple-basswood. High-quality prairie remnants occur on rocky hilltops and slopes that are not farmed. Some prairie pastures and oak savannas still exist. The grassland areas harbor many rare grassland birds, invertebrates, and other grassland species. Relict stands of pine occur on bedrock outcroppings along some stream systems.

Date  2010

Mineral Point and Sudan Branches Watershed At-a-Glance

Impaired Water in Mineral Point and Sudan Branches Watershed
River and Stream QualityAll Waters in Watershed

Rivers and streams in this watershed cover over 170 miles and range from small intermittent tributaries to larger rivers including portions of the Pecatonica River. Two streams/rivers in the watershed are identified as impaired (Brewery Creek and a tributary to Brewery Creek), and two rivers (Rock Branch and Sudan Branch) are Class II Trout Waters, indicating some natural reproduction and seasonal stocking.

Date  2010

Watershed Trout Streams
Watershed Outstanding & Exceptional Resources

Lakes and Impoundments

Ludden Lake is a 58 acre impoundment that was created in 1963 by constructing a dam on the Mineral Point Branch by the Mineral Hills Development Company. This company eventually dissolved and ownership of the lake and dam was taken up by the Ludden Lake District and Dam Commission which were formed in 1993. A new boat ramp and parking area completed in 1997 has improved access to the lake. That same year, northern pike were stocked into the lake. Smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, walleye, black crappie, bluegill, and carp have been found in the lake. Little is known about the water quality although algal blooms are significant in the warm months, likely due to nutrient enrichment from the surrounding agricultural landscape (Amrhein, 2001). Emergent aquatic vegetation from the upper end of the lake was eradicated, thus releasing a large sediment and nutrient load into the lake (Sims, pers. comm.) Property owners around the lake have formed a lake district as a step towards addressing water quality and lake issues. See details of the Ludden Lake EQIP project on page x of the Pecatonica River narrative.

Date  2002

Impaired Waters

List of Impaired Waters
Watershed Documents
Monitoring & Projects

Projects including grants, restoration work and studies shown below have occurred in this watershed. Click the links below to read through the text. While these are not an exhaustive list of activities, they provide insight into the management activities happening in this watershed.

Monitoring Studies

In 1992-1993, a major Brewery Creek rehabilitation project took place which involved moving four roaster piles to a central containment area and re-routing the stream away from this disposal site. Metals concentrations in the water column decreased by 80% and the stream no longer was rust colored (Ibid). While Brewery Creek responded favorably to this action, most of the fauna was still dominated by a few tolerant species. In 1998, the department listed Brewery Creek on its list of impaired, 303(d) waters. In 1998 and 1999, water samples from Brewery Creek were tested in laboratory biomonitoring assays using the cladaceran Ceriodaphnia dubia and fathead minnow (Pimephales promelas). Tests showed chronic toxicity in C. dubia (mean number of young significantly reduced) while other acute and chronic tests showed no significant difference between the test water and the control. Recently, a monitoring sudy was conducted to look at the fish and macroinvertebrate communities and water column metals concentrations 16 years after the project to determine if the stream continued to respond to the action. In general, although the water column concentrations of metals continue to indicate impacts from historic mining in the area, the biota of Brewery Creek seem to have rebounded to some extent. The number and diversity of fish increased after the remediation project and has shown additional improvement in this most recent survey. Data from only 1 macroinvertebrate sample was available at this writing. It indicated low impact from organic loading, but the lack of species diversity could either be an indication of the poor habitat and watershed characteristics (channelized system, urban and agricultural nonpoint source pollution) or remnant toxicity. Temperature monitoring should be conducted to determine the thermal regime of this system and to more fully evaluate the natural attainable use for this stream. Finding brown trout, along with evidence of natural reproduction is pleasantly surprising. Continued monitoring is needed to determine if this is a spurious event, or if it marks a trend in overall improvement of the stream.

Date  2010

Mineral Point and Sudan Branches Watershed

Goals

1/15/2018
Streams of the Mineral Point and Sudan Branches watershed are in good condition from a fisheries standpoint. The main stems of Sudan Branch and especially Mineral Point Branch contain a variety of species and can provide a reasonable angling opportunity.
1/15/2018
There are impacts from nonpoint source pollution as shown by MIBIs and the habitat scores. These impacts are most notable in the bank erosion which has exacerbated the widening of streams and led to a depressed width-to-depth ratio score and rating. Managed grazing (appropriate numbers of livestock for the acreage), rotational grazing, and stream crossings should be employed in the riparian corridors to help maintain sod cover and help mitigate bank erosion and trampling. This would help reduce the rate of stream widening.
1/15/2018
In areas that are row cropped, buffers, cover crops, no-till farming and implementation of nutrient management plans would help reduce bank erosion and runoff of sediment and nutrients to the systems.

Priorities

3/27/2010
Runoff evaluation and best management practice installation to reduce degration from agricultural and urbanizing runoff sources.
3/27/2010
Continued evaluation monitoring of Brewery Creek and its tributary.
Watershed Recommendations
Best Management Practices, Implement
Mineral Pt Branch BMPs
Date
Status
Total phosphorus exceeds the state criteria of 0.075 mg/l and thus Mineral Point Branch will remain on the state�s 303(d) list of impaired waters. The aforementioned nonpoint source best management practices would also help reduce phosphorus delivery to the stream. Fisheries management has several recommendations for Mineral Point Branch: no stocking of fish, maintaining the current size regulations, develop projects which would provide more habitat for smallmouth bass, especially the creation of deep pools and runs to hold adults year round. Below Ludden Lake specifically, fisheries management recommends looking at efforts to secure streambank easements.
1/15/2018
Proposed
 
Fish Management, Access
Evaluate stocking efforts
Date
Status
Fisheries management should determine the reason for lack of trout returns in the upper Sudan Branch to determine if it is practical to continue stocking efforts..
1/15/2018
Proposed
 
Fish Management, Access
Assess Smallmouth Bass nursery potential
Date
Status
Fisheries management may want to consider the lower half of Laxey Creek as a managed smallmouth bass water (nursery stream) as it may be hospitable for some production of bass.
1/15/2018
Proposed
 
Fish Management, Access
Assess Fish Stocking Efforts
Date
Status
Fisheries management should determine the reason for lack of trout returns in the Rock Branch to determine if it is practical to continue stocking efforts.
1/15/2018
Proposed
 
Monitor Aquatic Biology
Monitor biology on WBIC: 931000
Date
Status
Conduct biological (mIBI or fIBI) monitoring on Unnamed, WBIC: 931000, AU:3991126
5/21/2016
Proposed
Projects
 
Monitor Fish Tissue
Confirm FCA: IW pre-2000 data
Date
Status
928700 name Trib To Brewery Creek TMDL ID 58 Start Mile 0 End Mile 2.25
11/21/2011
Proposed
 
Monitor Water Quality or Sediment
Unnamed Trib to Mineral Point Branch Biology
Date
Status
Only assessment result is "poor". Furthe monitoring recommended. AU: 5701020; Station ID: 10043685
5/1/2018
Proposed
Projects
 
Monitor Water Quality or Sediment
Unnamed Trib to Rock Branch Biology fIBI
Date
Status
Only assessment result is "poor". Further monitoring recommended. AU: 6776325; Station ID: 10043690
5/1/2018
Proposed
Projects
 
Monitor or Propose 303(d) Listing
Ludden Lake for 303d listing
Date
Status
Ludden Lake should be added to the state�s 303(d) list of impaired waters because levels of total phosphorus and chlorophyll a exceed criteria and thresholds for shallow lowland lakes. The department should seek the aforementioned opportunities to work with partners to decrease soil and nutrient loss in the watershed upstream of Ludden Lake in order to improve water clarity, enhance macrophyte growth, and maintain the depth of the lake system which has been decreased over time due to sediment loads from upstream.
1/15/2018
Proposed
 
Natural Community Review or Change
Furnace Branch Update Classification
Date
Status
The classification of Furnace Branch should be updated to reflect the current biota using a contemporary classification system.
1/15/2018
Proposed
 
Natural Community Review or Change
Brewery Creek Update Classification
Date
Status
The classification of Brewery Creek should be updated to reflect the biota using a contemporary classification system.
1/15/2018
Proposed
 
Natural Community Review or Change
Laxey Creek Update Classification
Date
Status
The department should revise the classification of Laxey Creek to remove the variance section at the headwater.
1/15/2018
Proposed
 
Partnership Project
Collaborate on Ecosystem Health
Date
Status
DNR should seek opportunities to work collaboratively on projects which would benefit overall ecosystem health. Such opportunities include working with the Southwest Grasslands and Stream Conservation Area and Southwest Grasslands Bird Conservation Area. The department should work with groups to identify areas which would overlap as a priority for these programs, such as the upper Mineral Point watershed. These projects would also benefit Ludden Lake.
1/15/2018
Proposed
 
Water Quality Planning
Mineral Point Branch [HUC12] 2015
Date
Status
1/8/2015
Proposed
Projects
 
Mineral Point and Sudan Branches WatershedWatershed History Note

The City of Mineral Point is located in the Mineral Point and Sudan Branches Watershed. The first European settlement at Mineral Point began in 1827. During the following year, large quantities of galena, or lead ore, were discovered around the settlement in shallow deposits. Lead had many uses at the time, and settlers began to flock to the region hoping to make a living by extracting the easily accessible mineral. By 1829, the region's growing population led to the creation of Iowa County, which included all of the lead mining lands within the borders of what was then known as the Michigan Territory. Mineral Point remained an important lead mining center during the 1840s. The largest group of immigrants came from Cornwall in the United Kingdom, which had been a mining center for centuries. Experienced Cornish miners were attracted to the lead mining opportunities in Mineral Point, and by 1845 roughly half of the town's population had Cornish ancestry. Mining activity in Mineral Point began to decline in the following years. In 1848, the same year that Wisconsin achieved statehood, gold was discovered in California. As lead mining declined in Mineral Point, zinc mining and smelting became important new industries. Zinc ore was discovered with increasing frequency near the bottoms of old lead mines. The Mineral Point Zinc Company was founded in 1882, and by 1891 it was operating the largest zinc oxide works in the United States at Mineral Point. Zinc mining and processing continued on a large scale until the 1920s. Today the city's historical character has made it a regional tourist destination. The original dwellings of some of the early Cornish immigrants have been restored at the Pendarvis Historic Site.

Date  2011