Effects of a floodwater-retarding structure on the hydrology and ecology of Trout Creek in southwestern Wisconsin

Water-Resources Investigations Report 82-23

Prepared in cooperation wit the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources



The primary effects of a floodwater-retarding structure (FRS) on the streamflow of Trout Creek, Wisconsin, are attenuation of flood peaks and extension of the time base of flood hydrographs. Reduction of flood peaks ranged from 58 to 91 percent during the study period from 1975 to 1979.

There is an inverse relation between sediment concentration and outflow from the FRS during floods. As water went into storage in the flood pool in March 1976, the daily-mean total-sediment concentration in the FRS outflow dropped from 562 to 147 milligrams per liter. Sediment concentration subsequently increased to 809 milligrams per liter as the discharge from the FRS dropped; concentrations remained more than 400 milligrams per liter for several weeks thereafter. Most sediment stored in the flood pool during flood flows is released from the reservoir during subsequent reduced discharge. Sediment trapping efficiency of the FRS was about 7 percent for the 4-year period of the study.

The bankfull capacity of the channel was reduced from 154 cubic feet per second upstream from the flood pool of the FRS to 65 cubic feet per second just downstream from the FRS. This latter discharge corresponds closely to the normal FRS outflow of 58 to 71 cubic feet per second during floods. Mean bankfull depth downstream from the FRS has adjusted to a value 45 percent less than upstream from the structure due to sedimentation of materials transported from the FRS during reduced flows. The hydraulic geometry and relationships between channel geometry and drainage area indicate little effect of the FRS near the mouth of Trout Creek, 2.4 miles downstream from the FRS. The arthropod fauna of Trout Creek is large and diverse. No effects of the FRS on these fauna were observed from April 1975 to October 1979.

From fall 1975 to winter 1978, the most important factor contributing to increased brown trout egg survival and fry emergence in Trout Creek during a single reproductive season is higher water temperatures in the upper reaches of the stream. The FRS was not found to have any significant effect on trout reproduction during that period.

From 1960 to 1979, winter floods seem to have had the greatest adverse effect on the survival of brown trout eggs and sac fry. Although construction of the FRS has eliminated some spawning gravels in the flood pool owing to sedimentation, the wild trout have adapted by using spawning grounds above the flood pool more extensively and intensively. The FRS has not blocked the upstream migration of spawning trout, but it has eliminated similar migrations of fish that compete with and prey on the trout. Controlled streamflows downstream from the FRS have had a stabilizing influence on the limited trout reproduction in this region.

Study Area

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Effects of a floodwater-retarding structure on the hydrology and ecology of Trout Creek in southwestern Wisconsin
Series title:
Water-Resources Investigations Report
Series number:
Year Published:
U.S. Geological Survey
Contributing office(s):
Wisconsin Water Science Center
vi, 68 p.
United States
Other Geospatial:
Trout Creek
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