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for private wells.
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drinking and groundwater.

Accurately locating wells and drillholes for applications and reports

Wisconsin Administrative Code NR 812 requires the latitude and longitude coordinates of a well or drillhole to be reported on high capacity well applications, well construction reports and well filling and sealing reports.

Determining latitude and longitude coordinates

There are many options available for identifying coordinates.

  • GPS unit – many commercial devices are available to directly identify a specific location.
  • Internet search engines – applications such as Google Maps or Mapquest allow you to view a map, zoom in and identify the latitude and longitude of a specific point.
  • Smartphone – several applications are available for download and use on a mobile device.
  • DNR map viewers – DNR's Surface Water Data Viewer and other map resources provide latitude and longitude coordinates.
Latitude Longitude

Latitude, longitude coordinates of DNR
Madison office from Google Maps.
Note that Google Maps provides six
digits – round to four digits for DNR.

Format for reporting latitude and longitude coordinates

Latitude and longitude should be reported in “Decimal Degrees,” quantified to four digits after the decimal point. For example, record Latitude 43.5175 and Longitude 89.8256. Adjust the settings on your GPS unit, internet or smartphone application to report the results in Decimal Degrees. DNR map viewers are set to decimal degrees as the default. Round to four digits if the mapping application provides more decimal places.

Tips for accurate reporting

  • For a GPS unit, turn it on and place it in a clear view of the sky 20 minutes before use, so the device will have time to receive updated signals from the satellites.
  • Hold the GPS unit or smartphone over the well location for at least one minute without moving around before collecting the reading.
  • Double check your numbers. In Wisconsin:
    • latitude must be between 42 and 47 degrees, and
    • longitude must be between 86 and 93 degrees.

The importance of accurate location information

Accurate well location information makes it easier to find specific records in the future, such as well construction reports. Accurate location data is also necessary to evaluate high capacity well applications and determine approval conditions.

Last revised: Wednesday November 09 2016