US Army Corps of Engineers
St. Paul District Website


Planning Assistance to States (PAS): Red Cedar Basin Study

Published March 16, 2017
Updated: Sept. 20, 2019

The study titled “Red Cedar Basin Assessment to Improve Water Quality” is for the Red Cedar River Basin, which drains a 1,893 square-mile area in west-central Wisconsin and includes parts of Barron, Chippewa, Dunn, Polk, Rusk, Sawyer, St. Croix and Washburn counties.

Lakes Tainter and Menomin, along with other lakes in the Red Cedar River Basin and the river itself, are prone to algae blooms due to excess phosphorus flowing to these waters. In 2012 a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) calculation for Lakes Tainter and Menomin was finalized by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and approved by the U.S. Environmental Agency. The TMDL recommends a reduction of approximately 330,000 pounds/year of phosphorus flowing to Tainter Lake, and approximately 176,000 pounds/year to Lake Menomin.

Reducing phosphorus loads flowing to surface waters throughout the Red Cedar River Basin will decrease the frequency and intensity of algae blooms. This leads to better habitat and conditions for desirable aquatic species and provides greater opportunities for fishing and other recreation on these waters.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Planning Assistance to States (PAS) work requested by the West Central Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission (the sponsor) aims to reduce phosphorus loads in the Red Cedar River Basin and meet the phosphorus load reductions set by the TMDLs in the basin.


A partnership agreement was executed between the Corps and the sponsor in April 2016. Federal funding of $300,000 was provided for the study thus far. This PAS study is a three-year effort and costs $600,000. The sponsor will meet their 50 percent cost share requirement through work-in-kind efforts. Additional study partners include the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, University of Wisconsin–Extensions, University of Wisconsin–Stout; Tainter-Menomin Lake Improvement Association, Dunn County, and Barron County. The study is expected to be completed in fall 2019.


The study was authorized by Section 22 of the Water Resources Development Act of 1974 (Public Law 93‒251), as amended. The study was conducted under the Corps’ PAS program, following the 50/50 cost share formula with the non-federal sponsor.


The following is a summary of the funds received for the “Red Cedar Basin Assessment to Improve Water Quality.”

Total study cost                                                  $600,000
Total federal funds allocated to date              $300,000