Center for Watershed Science and Education

Effects of Increased Pumping of Richfield, Adams County Wells

Two wells pumping a total of 52 million gallons per year were proposed to service a large dairy facility in the Town of Richfield, Adams County. DNR wrote the pumping approval for more than double this amount, 131 million gallons per year. The greater amount of pumping would be expected to have a larger impact on area lakes and streams.

The Town of Richfield is in the Wisconsin Central Sands, an area that includes much of Portage, Waushara, and Adams Counties. These counties are the first, third, and fourth largest pumping counties in the state, drawing over 60 billion gallons of groundwater per year. Many central sands lakes and streams have been affected by groundwater pumping, including Pleasant Lake in Waushara County.

The original analysis of the 52 million gallon pumping amount concluded that substantial lake level and streamflow

impacts already occur in the area of the proposed wells due to existing groundwater pumping. (Pleasant Lake has been drawn down an estimated 1.5 feet on average by pumping, and over 3 feet during the somewhat dry year of 2007.) Pumping by the proposed wells would further lower water levels and streamflows.

Pumping 131 million gallons per year would have a greater amount of impact, drawing down water levels at Pleasant Lake by 5.6 inches on top of existing pumping impacts. Stream diversion impacts would also be greater.

DNR concluded based on a simplistic analysis that pumping that the 52 million gallon amount would not have any streamflow or lake level effect. They have since retracted that analysis.

A description of the groundwater flow model on which the analysis is based can be found in a prestigious peer-reviewed journal, Ground Water. [click here to be directed to the article]

Other background can be found in a 2010 report submitted to DNR:
Groundwater Pumping Effects on Groundwater Levels, Lake Levels, and Streamflows in the Wisconsin Central Sands
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