Study: High-capacity wells draining central Wisconsin lakes

An archival image of the Plainfield Tunnel Channel Lakes in Waushara County. An archival image of the Plainfield Tunnel Channel Lakes in Waushara County. |  Photo: Wisconsin DNR

The Associated Press/Wisconsin DNR
Created: April 06, 2021 04:24 PM

A new Department of Natural Resources study has concluded that high-capacity wells are draining three central Wisconsin lakes.

Then-Gov. Scott Walker signed a bill in 2017 mandating the DNR study well impacts on Long, Plainfield and Pleasant lakes in Waushara County.

The department released findings Tuesday that show groundwater withdrawals for irrigated agriculture are reducing water levels in Long, Plainfield and Pleasant lakes. More than 200 high-capacity wells around Long Lake have collectively resulted in significant impacts to the lake's ecosystem and recreational uses.

“As a result, we need a comprehensive strategy that empowers stakeholders to remedy these significant impacts to water resources in the region,” Adam Freihoefer, DNR Water Use Section Chief, said in a news release.

The report recommends creating a water use district to implement steps to reduce the wells' impacts. A draft report of the study findings and DNR recommendations is available on the DNR’s website.


The Associated Press/Wisconsin DNR

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