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a water withdrawal or terminate a registration.
annual water use data.
fees for registered water withdrawals.
water use data and maps.
about water use in Wisconsin.

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Wisconsin water withdrawals

Every year, all registered high capacity property owners are required to submit monthly withdrawal totals to DNR. Statewide, there are over 14,000 registered high capacity sources including over 13,000 groundwater and 1,000 surface water sources.

Each year, over 95 percent of property owners report on their water use. Most of the reports are submitted online. Those without meters either estimate or calculate their withdrawals with a DNR-approved method.

Sharing data

To meet Great Lakes – St. Lawrence River Basin Resources Great Lakes Compact and state law requirements, DNR maintains a database on water withdrawals and reports annual water use to the Great Lakes Commission [exit DNR].

Every year, Wisconsin creates a summary of the past year's withdrawals for the public. Locations and volumes of past reported withdrawals can be viewed using the Water Quantity Data Viewer.

Water use reports and summaries

Withdrawal sources

Average withdrawals by use

Statewide average water withdrawals by use.

The sources for Wisconsin withdrawals vary depending on the where the withdrawal takes place. A large majority of the water withdrawn is taken directly from Lake Michigan to supply cooling water for electric power generation and for municipal water supplies. In the Mississippi River basin, groundwater plays a much bigger role in supplying municipal public water supplies and agricultural irrigation. There are relatively few withdrawals made in Wisconsin's portion of the Lake Superior basin.

On average, annual withdrawals are about 2 trillion gallons of water. This volume is roughly:

  • three times the volume of water in Lake Winnebago;
  • enough to cover the surface area of Wisconsin in 2 inches of water;
  • 1.4 times the average annual flow in the Wisconsin River past the Dells; and
  • enough water to fill Lambeau Field about 4,700 times.

For more information regarding the Water Use Reporting program or to request more specific information on withdrawals, please contact:
Water Use Program
WI Department of Natural Resources
Water Use Section DG/5
PO Box 7921
Madison WI 53707-7921
Last revised: Monday March 11 2019