Groundwater

Overview

It has long been assumed that our groundwater supplies are inexhaustible, but in some parts of the state, water is being pumped out of the ground at a far greater rate than it can be replenished, and nearby rivers, lakes and wetlands are paying the price.

History

River Alliance’s first encounter with the issue of groundwater withdrawals was the big skirmish with the Nestle Co. and its Perrier bottled water brand, in 2000. They wanted to export hundreds of millions of gallons of water out of central Wisconsin in 1-liter bottles, sparking fear that such massive withdrawals would dry up surface waters.

Nestle eventually pulled out, and generic groundwater legislation was passed in 2004, with our backing. But irrigation for water-intensive potato, vegetable and corn production in the Central Sands region has intensified, stressing the surface waters in that area to the extent that the water’s edge on many lakes has declined up to 50 yards from historic levels. The Little Plover River has completely dried up at times, gaining it national recognition as a “Most Endangered River” in 2013 by American Rivers.

Another dry summer in 2011 provoked lakeshore property owners and water advocates in the Central Sands region to get organized. The River Alliance helped launch, and supports, the Central Sands Water Action Coalition, a consortium of over 60 organizations in the Central Sands advocating for wiser and more careful water use that allows the growers to keep growing but does not sacrifice surface waters.

This graphic shows the number of high-capacity (100,000 gallons-per-day or more) wells in the Central Sands region, where most of our groundwater work is focused.  (Courtesy University of Wisconin – Stevens Point Groundwater Center)

High-cap well graphic

Recent Blog Posts

PFAS found in Marshfield and Adams Water Wells Underscores Urgent Need for Clean Water Now

As more communities test their drinking water for contamination, it’s clear that we need more resources to protect our water from PFAS pollution and Wisconsin’s Spills Law should be vigorously enforced.

What’s missing from Enbridge’s Line 5 proposal

With our comments and the many hundreds of comments of opposition from Wisconsinites and clean water advocacy organizations to a proposed reroute of Enbridge's Line 5 oil pipeline, we hope the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources will deny the approval of their draft EIS statement and send Enbridge back to the planning table.

Failure of Natural Resources Board to Approve Recommended PFAS Standards Puts Wisconsin’s Clean Drinking Water at Risk

Natural Resources Board of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources failed to approve a plan for better state standards to limit the amount of PFAS pollution in drinking and groundwater.