About Peppermill Lake
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Lake Description Peppermill Lake is located in southeast Adams County, approximately 4 miles west of Oxford, Wisconsin. The lake has a surface area of 100 or 91 acres with a maximum depth of 14 feet and a mean depth of 7 feet. Peppermill Lake is the headwaters for Peppermill Creek, which is a tributary of Neenah Creek. Peppermill Creek has a diverse cold and warm water fishery and the macrophyte indices and instream habitat assessments are satisfactory (The Sate of the Upper Fox River Basin, 2001). The water source for the lake is surface runoff and groundwater springs. The University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point Environmental Task Force Program evaluated the groundwater entering the lake in 2001. Groundwater generally flows northwest into the lake and flows northeastern out of the lake. The University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point Environmental Task Force Program also determined that stratification occurs in the deep holes during the winter and summer months, while mixing occurs in the spring and the fall. The Peppermill Dam, built in 1967, impounds water to form the lake. The dam is owned by Adams County who operates, maintains, and performs repairs. There is a public boat launch located at the east end of Peppermill Lake. Adams County Parks and Recreation Department manage the boat launch and the immediate area.
Climate The climate in the Peppermill Lake area is classified in the continental climate type. The summers have warm but not excessively hot days and cool nights. Winters are long, cold, and snowy. Mean annual precipitation is almost 30 inches. In an average winter, snow cover on the ground and ice cover on the lakes lasts from December to April. The growing season generally extends from late May to early September, for an average frost-free growing season of 135 days. Prevailing winds come out of the northwest from late fall through spring, and from the South during the remainder of the year. The wind speed generally ranges from 4 to 15 miles per hour. (Adams County Land and Water Resource Management Plan)
Demographics Peppermill Lake is in the Town of Jackson, Adams County, Wisconsin. The population in the Town of Jackson in 1995 was 953 people compared to 2000; the population was 926 people with 55.4% between the ages of 19 to 65 and 22.2% over the age of 65. There were 951 total housing units with 41.7% of those units being occupied year round and 58.3% seasonal/recreational. The median household income in 1999 was $39,338 with 25.5% in the $35,000-$49,999 range, 22.9% in the $50,000-$74,999 range, and 20.2% in the $15,000-$24,999 range. The industry is varied in the Township with manufacturing 20.1%; recreation 13%, education/social services 11.3% and retail 3 trade 11.3% being the top four. (U.S. Census Bureau, Census 2000) In 2001, the Peppermill Lake Association conducted a landowner survey to determine lake use, perceptions, and practices that may affect the lake water quality. Sixty-three of eighty-five surveys (74%) were returned of which 54 surveys (85.7%) came from people who had property on the lake. Results of the survey found: average ownership of property was 11.6 years; 17.7% of respondents were year around residents while 82.3% were seasonal residents; fishing, boating, peace/solitude were the top recreational activities; 72.5% respondents have a mowed lawn and 14.8% use fertilizers on their lawn. The survey attempted to gather information on septic systems but response was incomplete. (Peppermill Lake Survey, 2001) In 2004, the Peppermill Lake District conducted a landowner survey to determine lake use, perceptions, and practices that may affect the lake water quality. Sixty-three of eighty-five surveys (74%) were returned of which 57 surveys (90%) came from people who had property on the lake. Results of the survey found: average ownership of property was 13.6 years; 20% of respondents were year around residents while 80% were seasonal residents; fishing, boating, peace/solitude, scenic enjoyment were the top recreational activities; 63% respondents have a mowed lawn and 10% use fertilizers on their lawn. The survey results stated 70% of the respondent's felt the lake level has not changed significantly and 65% said there should be no adjustments to the lake level. Results also stated that on average, survey respondent's septic systems were inspected every 1-2 year. (Peppermill Lake Survey, 2001)
Lake Water Quality The relatively shallow nature of Peppermill Lake and the nature of being an impoundment make this regionally popular water resource sensitive to nutrient inputs (Assessment of Lake and Groundwater Chemistry, Shallow Groundwater Flow, and the Aquatic Macrophyte Community, Peppermill Lake, 2002). Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) Self-Help data shows excellent water quality in Peppermill Lake and shows no signs of detrimental watershed impacts (Peppermill Lake District Aquatic Plant Management Technical Report, 2003). The Adams Land and Water Conservation Department is presently testing the water quality from 2004 to 2006 and plans to monitor water quality in the future. The University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point Environmental Task Force Program evaluated the water quality and found: 1. Total phosphorus and total nitrogen levels are at manageable levels; 2. Modeling predicted 135-kg/year total phosphorus entering the lake (75% from ground water flowing through lake sediments, 10% from watershed, 7% from groundwater, 5% from septic systems, and 3% from atmosphere); 3. Phosphorus is the limiting nutrient in Peppermill Lake; 4. water flow into the lake is estimated at 4 to 4.5 cfs; 5. The lake's Trophic Status Index is mesotrophic to eutrophic; 6. Toxic metals will not be an immediate factor in water quality due to the high pH and buffering capacity; 7. The measured amount of chloride indicates a minimal impact from septic systems, animal waste, fertilizers, regional watershed activities, and road salting chemicals; In the Summer of 2001, a survey of the Peppermill Lake Community found: 50.9% of respondents felt water quality has declined; 83% of respondents rated the water quality as good to excellent, while 15% rated it fair, and 2% rated the water quality as poor; 71.4% stated weeds were the major water quality problem, followed by algae (26.9%) and water clarity (9.5%). (Peppermill Lake Survey, 2001) In the Autumn of 2004, a survey of the Peppermill Lake Community found: 26% of respondents felt water quality has declined; 92% of respondents rated the water quality as good to excellent, while 6% rated it fair, and 2% rated water quality poor; 74% of the surveys stated weeds were the major water quality problem, followed by algae (48%) and water clarity (6%). Survey results showed those who see water quality declining felt it is due to weeds (56%), development (23%), septic systems (20%), and herbicides (16%). (Peppermill Lake Survey, 2004)
Aquatic Plant Community In 1998, Eurasian watermilfoil was identified as a potential large-scale problem but the native plant community was effectively competing with the Eurasian watermilfoil. Aquatic Engineering Inc. conducted an aquatic plant survey in 2003 and identified hybridized forms of watermilfoils the greatest threat to aquatic plant management. Eurasian watermilfoil and hybrid watermilfoils utilize nutrients in the lake for growth and fragments of the plant may spread to new areas and become established. Eurasian watermilfoil and hybrid watermilfoils are a problem because they can prevent navigation, reduce water quality, impair fisheries and out-compete native plant communities (Peppermill Lake District Aquatic Plant Management Technical Report, 2003). In 2001, the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point Environmental Task Force Program completed a plant survey that found the aquatic plant community is above average quality according to the Aquatic Macrophyte Community Index. The survey also provided the following findings: the sediment is predominately silt; 97% of the littoral zone is vegetated (25-85% is ideal for fish habitat); many of the plants found are excellent fish habitat and are characteristic of good water clarity; there is good diverse submergent plant community, while the emergent plant community lacks diversity. In 2003, Aquatic Engineering Inc. conducted 4 surveys, starting in June and ending in mid-October, to identify areas of Eurasian watermilfoil. The areas were treated with 5 2,4-D and totaled 5.4 acres. During the follow-up periods, it was determined that previous treatments controlled the Eurasian watermilfoil, but the 2,4-D had no control on the hybrid watermilfoil growth. Timing, water temperature, and slow plant metabolism may attribute to the poor treatment results on the hybrid watermilfoil. For details of the surveys and treatments, review "2003 Peppermill Lake District Aquatic Plant Management Technical Report - Appendix ?. The 2004 Peppermill Lake Survey stated 95% of the respondents supported general weed harvesting and 66% wanted more plants to be harvest, 30% wanted the same amount as current and 16% want fewer plants to be harvested.
Lake Fishery In the summer of 2001, a survey of the Peppermill Lake Community found 72 % of the respondents rated the fishing average or better, while 23.2% rated it fair and 4.6% rated the fishing as poor. The survey showed approximately 55% of the respondents felt the quality of fishing has stayed the same or improved while 45% felt it has declined. Several of the comments from the survey centered on the fish being smaller in size. In 2004, a survey of the Peppermill Lake Community found 66 % of the respondents rated the fishing average or better, while 20% rated it fair and 4% rated the fishing as poor. The survey showed approximately 56% of the respondents felt the quality of fishing has stayed the same, 45% felt it has declined and no one felt it has improved. Results of the survey showed those who felt the fishery was in decline felt it was due to over-fishing, weeds, and soil erosion. In 2001, the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Wisconsin Cooperative Fishery Research Unit evaluated the status of the fish community. Results of the survey found high numbers of small bluegill and low numbers of largemouth bass and northern pike. It was determined that high aquatic plant growth may be hindering predation and bluegill growth. Recommendations to improve black crappie, yellow perch, northern pike, and largemouth bass are: conduct a growth study of the bluegill population to determine if stunting or angler harvest is responsible for the current size structure of the population; mechanical harvest of aquatic vegetation; continued stocking of northern pike and largemouth bass; and fishing regulation changes. See Appendix ? for details of the survey. In the 1970's and early 1980's there were four severe winterkills of fish due to low dissolved oxygen levels from the decomposition of vegetation and organic material (Ironside, WDNR Fisheries Biologist, 1999). Two aeration systems were installed in 1992 to improve the low oxygen conditions.
Watershed Total lake surface watershed is approximately 952 acres. The land use in the surface watershed is woodlands 53.4%, residential 36.2%, water 6.9% and agriculture 3.5%. The upper watershed consists of moderate to steep sloping, well to somewhat poorly drained, sands and loamy sands. The shoreline area (area within 1000 feet of lake) consists of slight to moderate-steep slopes, with well to moderately drained, sands and loamy sands. Residential development occurs on most of the 92 riparian parcels in the shoreline area and most parcels have native herbaceous plants. There is approximately 80 acres of zoned conservancy that lies on the north side of the lake. (Assessment of Lake and Groundwater Chemistry, Shallow Groundwater Flow, and the Aquatic Macrophyte Community,Peppermill Lake, 2002). The shoreline area is not serviced by a public sanitary system and all dwellings have private septic systems.
The watershed groundwater generally flows northwest to southeast. There are no high capacity drinking wells in this watershed but there are ?# high capacity wells used for irrigating cropland. The groundwater watershed is approximately 4,715 acres.
In 2001, the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point Environmental Task Force Program lead efforts to determine the quality of surface water and groundwater entering the lake, the land uses in the watershed and the effects they have on the lake's water quality. The groundwater was found to have hard water with elevated alkalinity and conductivity and several samples had high levels of nitrate and chloride that may indicate minor impacts from watershed activities, septic systems, and shoreline area activities.
In the Summer of 2001, a survey of the Peppermill Lake Community found 73% of the lake shoreline had natural or man-made landscaped buffer with an average width of 33 feet, 17% had lawns up to the shoreline, 8% of the shoreline was rock rip-rap, and 2% had retaining walls.
In the Autumn of 2004, a survey of the Peppermill Lake Community found 70% of the lake shoreline had natural or man-made landscaped buffer with an average width of 16 feet, 19% had lawns up to the shoreline, 9% of the shoreline was rock rip-rap, and 2% had retaining walls.