Springville Branch of Bad Axe River - Action Alert

The city of Viroqua has applied for permits to place an outfall structure on the bed of Springville Branch of the Bad Axe River (a class I trout stream) in Vernon County. What this amounts to is, if the final permits are issued, the city will be able to discharge 350,000-385,000 gallons of waste water per day from its wastewater treatment plant directly into the Springville Branch headwaters through a pipeline connecting to the outfall structure. Previously the city discharged its wastewater in a manner that allowed most of the discharged wastewater to seep underground before it had a chance to enter the Springville Branch. DNR is not in favor of allowing the current method to continue because of nutrient contents in the wastewater that are not suitable to enter the ground water.


Wisconsin Trout Unlimited has sent a letter to the DNR requesting a public informational hearing on this permit. We are cautiously optimistic that a hearing will be scheduled and will notify our membership about date and time when and if a hearing is scheduled.


The State Council has learned that DNR is still accepting public comments on the permit applications. We are asking both our chapters and our individual members to make comments on the requested permits. BUT, the comment period is only open until May 11. By the time you read this there will only be a few days to make your comments.


The Council has a number of concerns about potential damage to both the Springville Branch and the North Fork Bad Axe below the Springville Branch confluence if 350,000-385,000 gallons per day of discharged wastewater are allowed to be pumped directly into the system.


You will be commenting on permits: IP-WC-2016-63-00769 and IP-WC-2016-63-00844.


Here are some talking points for your comments:


A. What will the impacts be to the stream bed and the trout habitat that would result from increasing the stream flow by as much as 385,000 gallons of waste water per day?


B. What will the impact be on spawning of brown trout and other fish that would result from the discharges?


C. What thermal impacts will there be to the stream as a result of the discharges? Will the ability of the stream to support a trout population be impacted by thermal changes?


D. Why the current practice of discharging the waste water in a way that lets it recharge the local aquifer is no longer acceptable. If there is a substance present in the effluent that makes it unsuitable to enter ground water, is it acceptable to allow it to be discharged into a class 1 trout stream?


E. Trout angling plays a major role in the economy of Viroqua and the surrounding area. If negative impacts to trout or trout habitat occur on Springville Branch and North Fork Bad Axe as a result of wastewater discharges, what would the impact be on the trout angling economy in the surrounding area?


Your comments should be sent to:

Mr. Will Stites

Water Management Specialist

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

Email address: Will.Stites@Wisconsin.gov


Again, this is very important, and we need all of our chapters, members, and friends to act. Please take time to produce a letter commenting on and questioning the possible impacts to one of the premier fisheries in the Driftless Area.


Thanks for this info. Here is the email I drafted based on this background... hope it helps


Hello Mr. Sites,

I am am member of Trout Unlimited, and I recently learned the city of Viroqua has applied for permits to place an outfall structure on the bed of Springville Branch of the Bad Axe River which could effectively pump 350,000-385,000 gallons per day of discharged wastewater directly into the system.
Though I understand this may be an appealing option for the city of Viroqua from a financial standpoint in terms of wastewater disposal, I fear it may be rather shortsighted. 
The potential damage to the local fishery is great. For years now, there has been a national draw by not only Trout Unlimited, but other national fishing organizations . For instance, next weekend, the Midwest Tenkara Fest will be held in Coon Valley. I personally know several anglers flying in from both the west and east coast for this event. 
The watersheds are a valuable resource for many reasons. Please take the time to question the possible impacts to one of the premier fisheries in the Driftless Area. 
Please help protect our resources. Feel free to contact me with any questions or if you ever want to get out on the stream and fish.
Take care,
David Nash