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DNR Releases Online Data-Driven Special Project On Water Use

Contact(s): Bob Smail, water supply specialist, 608-267-4581, Adam Freihoefer, water use section chief, 608-267-7638,
February 20, 2020

MADISON, Wis. - Wisconsin power plants, cities, businesses, industries and agricultural operations pumped just under 2 trillion gallons of groundwater and surface water in 2018, according to Department of Natural Resources online data-driven special project on water use.

The Wisconsin Water Use project allows the public to learn about 2018 water use data in Wisconsin. Online visitors can also explore current and past water use data using other online tools, including the water quantity data viewer and the water withdrawal search.

Wisconsin is a water-rich state with surface water including more than 84,000 river miles, 15,000 lakes and more than 1,000 miles of Great Lakes shoreline. The state also enjoys abundant groundwater resources. On average, Wisconsin residents and businesses withdraw about 2 trillion gallons of water annually, enough to fill Lambeau Field about 4,700 times or cover the state with 2 inches of water.

The sustainable use of Wisconsin's water resources is critical for our health, environment and economy. In Wisconsin, we rely on both groundwater and surface water for drinking water supplies, power plants, agriculture, industrial and commercial facilities, aquaculture, golf courses and more.

The state's seventh annual water use analysis tallies how many gallons were pumped by municipal water systems, agricultural operations, utilities and other sources that can pump more than 100,000 gallons of water a day from groundwater, lakes or rivers.

Of the total groundwater and surface water use in 2018, 68% came from Lake Michigan, 21% from inland lakes and rivers, 11% from groundwater and 0.5% came from Lake Superior. The largest single water use was for power generation facilities using 77% of the total annual volume. Overall, water use in Wisconsin remained the same between 2018 and 2017.

Wisconsin's water use reporting requirements are part of the Great Lakes Compact, a 10-year-old agreement between the Great Lakes states and Canadian provinces to collectively manage water quantity in the Great Lakes basin. Through these agreements, the states and provinces manage the water in the Great Lakes watershed collectively.

The DNR also developed a companion groundwater online special project that explains groundwater and highlights the major aquifers in Wisconsin.

Last Revised: Thursday, February 20, 2020

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