A Community Strategy for the Eau Claire River Watershed
The Eau Claire River watershed encompasses five different counties, three lake districts, and one lake association. Agriculture, forestry, and low-density residential development are the dominant land uses within the watershed, including large areas of public-owned forest lands.
The Watershed includes numerous trout streams and surface waters that have received special designations due to their good water quality and wildlife habitat. However, the Watershed also has a number of causes and sources of pollutant loading, with phosphorus and sedimentation among the most prevalent concerns. Four lakes (Rock Dam, Mead, Coon Fork, Eau Claire) and parts of one river (South Fork-Eau Claire) and nine creeks (Sevenmile, Thompson Valley, Bears Grass, Bridge, Diamond Valley, Hay (north), Hay (south), Otter, Fall) have been listed or proposed as impaired 303(d) surface waters; 303(d) waters are too polluted or degraded to meet minimum water quality standards.
About the Watershed Strategy
We've tried regulations and incentives, yet water quality continues to be a problem in the watershed - a new approach is needed that builds interest and civic capacity to address these concerns locally. During the project, we began a community conversation on local needs, actions, and benefits. It is your property, your farm, and your lakes, rivers, and streams. We want to help you reach your goals.
The Eau Claire River Watershed Coalition, within input received during various community meetings and a bottom-up review of existing local plans, guided the development of an overall plan or strategy for the Watershed. During this effort, the Eau Claire County Land and Water Conservation Division served as the lead project agency with project facilitation provided by West Central Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission (WCWRPC), modeling support from Olson Environmental Research (OE Research), and a sociological assessment performed by UW-Stevens Point Center for Land Use Education.
The completed plan is currently under review by WDNR and EPA to ensure that it meets the "9 key elements" for watershed-based plans under the EPA Nonpoint Source (Section 319) Program, which will enable participants to pursue Section 319 grant dollars for projects identified within the plan.
Who is the Eau Claire River Watershed Coalition?
The Coalition is a network of residents, landowners, lake groups, farmers, governmental bodies, and various other stakeholders working together to address our soil health and water quality issues and opportunities. Anyone who values good, clean water and believes that our Watershed's lakes, rivers, and streams are important is a potential coalition partner.
During the planning process, special effort was made to invite lake districts/associations, county land conservation offices, agricultural agencies, outdoor and environmental groups, 4-H, FFA, area farmers, and local municipalities to be part of the Coalition. The Coalition now has the opportunity to continue to grow and to create a "recognizable face" for soil health and water quality advocacy throughout the Watershed. We hope you will join us in continuing this needed community conversation. We can't do it without you