Tichigan Lake, Wisconsin, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - Midwest - Wisconsin - Lake Michigan Region -

Also known as:  Waterford Impoundment

Tichigan Lake is a portion of the Waterford Impoundment on the Fox River in Wisconsin’s Lake Michigan Region. It offers private lakefront living to a large number of lakelubbers. Tichigan Lake itself is a modest 268 acres, but with its connection to 108-acre Buena Lake and the 756-acre impounded portion of the Fox River, the continuous water surface covers over 1,100 acres. All three water bodies are formed by the Waterford Dam in the Village of Waterford at the south end of Buena Lake. The approximately 24 miles of shoreline are private except for the 1,500-acre Tichigan Wildlife Area encompassing the northern portion of the impoundment basin. Additionally, a large portion of the shoreline is wetlands, allowing for plenty of natural habitat. So although the lakefronts of Tichigan and Buena Lakes are heavily developed, a large area of natural shoreline is available for bird-watching and wildlife viewing.

Several state-owned boat launches give the public access to the expanse of water. Paddle sports enthusiasts often arrive at Tichigan Lake via the Fox River; the river is accessible for many miles if paddlers don’t mind a few easy portages. Located at the west side of Racine County, the Waterford Impoundment and the Fox River drain to the Mississippi River system; rivers in eastern Racine County flow toward Lake Michigan.

Fishing is a favored sport on Tichigan Lake. The entire Waterford Impoundment often hosts bass tournaments. As most of the water is shallow with good weed cover, bluegill, largemouth bass, northern pike, smallmouth bass, walleye, crappie and catfish are all caught regularly. Brook trout and brown trout inhabit the incoming stream mouths and quiet portions of the Fox River. The impoundment draws ice fishermen every winter. As common carp have become quite numerous in the lakes, a local environmental group, Fox River C.A.U.S.E., has hosted ‘carp round-ups’ and pay participants a dollar for each carp removed from the lakes.

Boating of all types is popular on the entire Waterford Impoundment. A few restrictions apply, such as no-wake areas, areas with speed limits, and areas reserved for seaplane landings. But this still leaves plenty of space for water skiing, jet skiing, tubing, sailing, wake-boarding and power boating. Many lakefront homes have their own swimming area. A marina rents small boats and provides slip spaces for those wishing a berth on the lakes. A favored watercraft is the pontoon boat, with local residents using them to visit neighbors and enjoy summer evenings. One enterprising local business has constructed a large ‘party barge’ with canopy, rest rooms and seating for more than 40 passengers that may be rented for special occasions.

Tichigan Wildlife Area is popular with nature lovers and hunters alike. Certain areas are off-limits as a refuge, but other areas are open to hiking and bird-watching. Tichigan Marsh is the largest emergent marsh in Racine County. Great egrets, least bitterns, terns, teal, wood ducks, Wilson’s phalaropes and white-rumped sandpipers are often viewed here, making the wildlife area one of the preferred birding spots in south-central Wisconsin. Hunters stalk deer, waterfowl, turkey, small game and pheasants in the wildlife area during hunting season. The area is open for hiking year-round, and contains a snowmobiling trail for winter enjoyment. Local snowmobiling clubs maintain a system of snowmobile trails in the area, making it easy for riders to reach a variety of destinations. A popular hiking-mountain biking trail extends through the Tichigan Lake area, linking with two other portions of scenic trail. The scenic trail corridor, stretching 13 miles south to north from Burlington to Wind Lake, is actually comprised of three rail-trails: the Burlington, Waterford-Wind Lake, and Norway trail. The three are currently being connected to form one trail. The trail systems are convenient and scenic cross-country skiing and snowshoeing venues.

Although Tichigan Lake and Buena Lake are both private, with no camping areas or public parks, the Village of Waterford takes its responsibility as a lakefront destination seriously. A number of annual events and activities draw visitors to the area: the Waterford Balloon Festival, music festivals along the river, a Full-Moon 4-Mile Run, and a Canoe and Kayak Outing join the traditional fireworks display over the water on the Fourth of July. Waterford itself is a stretched-out community encompassing most of the Impoundment, with the village center at the south end around the Waterford Dam. As the popularity of Tichigan Lake has grown, so have condo developments and vacation opportunities. Waterford provides most necessary services, including health providers, golf courses, restaurants,schools and shopping. With the larger city of Racine only half an hour away and numerous small towns in the area, any desirable activity or service is within a few minutes’ drive of the impoundment.

The Waterford Impoundment and Tichigan Lake have a long history in the area. The first dam was built in 1836 by two businessmen who built sawmills and grain milling facilities at the shallow point of the Fox River where horses could easily cross. The town was first incorporated in 1906. The dam continued to grow; its final reconstruction occurred in 1977 and provides for 7,100 acre-feet of water within the impoundment. Although Tichigan Lake reaches 65 feet in depth, most of the impoundment is far shallower with average depths around six feet with has several sand bars. Its central location, about 30 miles from Milwaukee, makes the Waterford Impoundment a popular location for both seasonal homes and year-round commutes. A number of private homes and cottages are available for weekly or monthly rental. A few hotels located nearby offer lodging, although they do not overlook the lake itself. Real estate along the lakefront is available in the form of existing housing in all price ranges. If you want to access Tichigan Lake and the Waterford Impoundment, there are many ways available to do so. We hope you can join us for a visit soon!

*Statistics listed are for the impoundment as a whole.

Things to do at Tichigan Lake

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Fishing Tournaments
  • Boating
  • Sailing
  • Swimming
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Jet Skiing
  • Water Skiing
  • Tubing
  • Golf
  • Camping
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Cross-Country Skiing
  • Snowmobiling
  • Horseback Riding
  • Hunting
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • Shopping

Fish species found at Tichigan Lake

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Bluegill
  • Brook Trout
  • Brown Trout
  • Carp
  • Catfish
  • Crappie
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Northern Pike
  • Perch
  • Pike
  • Smallmouth Bass
  • Sunfish
  • Trout
  • Walleye

Tichigan Lake Photo Gallery

Tichigan Lake Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed

Water Level Control: Wisconsin Dept of natural Resources

Surface Area: 1,132 acres

Shoreline Length: 24 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 733 feet

Average Depth: 6 feet

Maximum Depth: 65 feet

Water Volume: 7,115 acre-feet

Completion Year: 1977

Trophic State: Eutrophic

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Trophic State | LakeLubbers

Trophic State measures the level of algae and nutrients in a lake.

An oligotrophic lake is very clear (blue in color) and does not support much plant or fish life. A hyper-oligotrophic lake is the clearest of all lakes, and is nearly devoid of plants and fish.

A mesotrophic lake is slightly green and supports a moderate degree of plant and fish life. A lake's most desired trophic state is generally this mid-point - the mesotrophic state.

A eutrophic lake is somewhat murky and supports a large amount of plant and fish life. A hypereutrophic lake is clouded with algae, plant life, and fish life. A eutrophic or hyper-eutrophic lake can be difficult to navigate by boat - and is often an unpleasant place to swim.

The use of phosphorus-rich and nitrogen-rich fertilizer on lawns and golf courses surrounding a lake can cause it to become eutrophic or hypereutrophic.


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Catchment or Drainage Area | LakeLubbers

This is the surrounding area that drains into a lake, including land, rivers and their tributaries. This is also known as the lake's "catchment basin".

Small lakes at the highest peaks of mountains have small drainage areas. The world's oceans have the largest drainage areas.


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Lake-Area Population | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated number of people who live in a house with a view of a lake, plus those who self-describe the lake as their home, for example: "I live at Smith Mountain Lake."


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Water Residence Time | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated time that it takes for an amount of water equal to the entire volume of a lake to flow out of - or evaporate from - the lake.

Residence Time can be as short as a few days for fast-flowing small lakes, and can exceed 100 years for slow-flowing large lakes.


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Completion Year | LakeLubbers

This is the year that a reservoir was first filled to the reservoir's normal elevation - or the year that a natural lake was first dammed. A large reservoir can take more than a year to fill after its dam is first closed.

The Grand Anicut in southern India is generally considered the world's oldest dam that still operates. Grand Anicut was constructed in the second century BC. It now impounds an irrigation network that includes roughly one million acres.

You can find many of the the world's newest reservoirs on LakeLubbers. Many of the world's oldest reservoirs appear on the last page of that list.


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Water Volume | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated volume of water that a lake contains -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. By this measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal.

You can find many of the the world's largest lakes (by water volume) on LakeLubbers.

Water Volume can be measured in acre-feet, in cubic miles, or in cubic kilometers. One acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre (43,560 square feet) to a depth of one foot. One cubic mile equals 3,379,200 acre-feet. One cubic kilometer equals 810,713 acre-feet.

1 acre-foot is equal to 325,851 US gallons. Siberia's Lake Baikal contains about 6,276,367,740,000,000 gallons of freshwater - nearly 1 million gallons for every living person on earth.

The other - and more widely used - measure of a lake's size is the lake's surface acreage. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is North America's Lake Superior.


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Maximum Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated greatest depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. The world's deepest lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal; that lake's maximum depth is estimated at 5,314 feet.

You can find many of the the world's deepest lakes on LakeLubbers. If you select the last page of that list, you will find the (maximum depth of) the shallowest lakes in our database.


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Average Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated average depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. If the water volume and surface area of a lake are known, an estimate of the lake's average depth can be calculated:

Water volume ÷ Surface Area = Average Depth

Example: 1,000,000 acre-feet ÷ 20,000 acres = 50 feet average depth


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Maximum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's highest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can occur during flooding. A lake's highest possible maximum elevation is usually the top of the lake's dam or spillway.

At lakes that include residential development, government regulations usually forbid the construction of homes below a lake's maximum elevation.


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Minimum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's lowest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can be reasonably expected to occur. Low lake levels can occur due to deliberate seasonal draw downs for irrigation or impending snow melt, reduced water inflows, drought and evaporation, residential or commercial water demands, and hydropower generation.

Some lakes' minimum and maximum elevations are virtually the same. Lakes that generate hydropower may vary by several feet - according to power demand. Lakes whose primary purpose is to prevent flooding can seasonally vary by 100 feet or more.

When some lakes reach their minimum elevation, their boat ramps may not be long enough to permit boat access - and boats docked on shallow parts of the lake may end up on dry ground. In those cases, kayakers and shore-based anglers may be among the few happy recreational users of the lake.


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Normal Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's normal water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level. For a reservoir, this water level is also known as "full pond" or "full pool".

You can find many of the world's highest-elevated lakes on LakeLubbers. Lakes with the lowest elevations (known by LakeLubbers) are shown on the final page of that list.


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Shoreline Length | LakeLubbers

This is the length of the exterior shoreline around a lake - measured at the lake's normal elevation. The shoreline length can be considerably shorter or longer when lake water levels are lower or higher than normal.

A lake with many coves has a much longer shoreline than a lake of similar surface area that is nearly circular in shape.

When known, the shoreline miles that we report in our statistics include only the lake's exterior shoreline, and exclude the shorelines of islands located within a lake's boundaries. In lakes with many islands, those islands' combined shorelines may exceed a lake's exterior shoreline.

You can find many of the world's longest-shoreline lakes on Lakelubbers.


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Surface Area | LakeLubbers

This is the area (acreage, square kilometers, etc.) of the top surface area of a lake - measured at a lake's normal elevation. The surface area can be considerably smaller or larger when lake levels are lower or higher than normal. North America's Lake Superior is the world's largest freshwater lake by this measure.

The other measure of a lake's size is the lake's water volume. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Lake Baikal in Siberia.

You can find many of the world's largest lakes (acres) on Lakelubbers. There is no widely-accepted minimum surface area that defines a lake. What Lakelubbers describes as a lake, you might call a pond. The smallest lake that Lakelubbers currently includes is Hawaii's 2-acre Lake Waiau.


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Water Level Control | LakeLubbers

This is the organization that controls water releases or outflows from the lake or reservoir. In the USA, this is often the US Army Corps of Engineers, a power company, a municipal water system, an irrigation district, or a paper manufacturing company. In the case of private or gated lakes, a homeowners' association may be the lake's controlling authority.

Many lakes cross borders, including North America's Great Lakes. The control of such lakes and their coveted freshwater may be amicably shared - or hotly disputed.

"Water wars" continue at many lakes as growing populations and crop irrigation needs compete for the freshwater that lakes contain.


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Lake Type | LakeLubbers

There are 3 basic types of lakes that are currently included on LakeLubbers. 2 types may be dammed or not dammed, producing 5 classifications.

- A Reservoir is a man-made freshwater lake that is usually created by damming rivers.

- A Natural Freshwater Lake occurs naturally - often by glacial activity - and has a salinity of less than 30 parts per thousand. It may be dammed to produce electricity or for other reasons.

- A Natural Saltwater Lake occurs naturally and has a salinity of more than 30 parts per thousand (ppt). It may be dammed.

"Brackish" water may be categorized as freshwater or saltwater, depending on its salt content (salinity). Oligohaline water has less than 15 ppt of salt. Mesohaline water has 15-29 ppt. Polyhaline has 30-335 ppt.


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