Centralizing Access to Groundwater Information for Use in Comprehensive Planning

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Contract Period:

7/1/2006 - 6/30/2008

Funding Source:


  • Lynn Markham, UW-Stevens Point
  • Charles Dunning, USGS


In order for communities to plan for the future, it is essential that both the quantity and quality of groundwater be protected. Wisconsin law requires that by January 1, 2010 all communities that make specified land-use decisions must do so consistent with their comprehensive plan. Groundwater is a recognized factor in all nine required elements of comprehensive plans, and much information and data exist to address the role of groundwater in those nine elements. However, many communities, particularly smaller communities, do not have the resources or expertise to locate, evaluate, and incorporate appropriate groundwater information and data in their comprehensive plans. In many instances it is difficult for a community to know where to begin. If, however, Wisconsin groundwater information and data is made accessible and user-friendly, it is much more likely that it will be used in the comprehensive-planning process.


The objectives of this project are to 1) identify the range of ground-water information and data useful for addressing groundwater in comprehensive planning, 2) identify means of centralizing world-wide web access to ground-water information and data, 3) establish the chosen centralized access, 4) incorporate characteristics or features believed important for the centralized site, 5) include on the centralized site results of ongoing evaluations of groundwater in adopted comprehensive plans, and 6) ensure that the existence and capabilities of the site are advertised to the broad range of potential users.


With the assistance of the project advisory group, we 1) surveyed existing websites in Wisconsin that are providing groundwater information relevant to comprehensive planning, 2) assisted three pilot counties in incorporating groundwater information, goals and policies in their comprehensive plans, with the objective of learning what information and layout they found most valuable, 3) spoke with multiple agencies to determine the optimal home for the new website, 4) conducted a survey of intended website users which provided the basis for our design of a user-friendly web structure for displaying groundwater data, maps, and other information, 5) incorporated on centralized web site an outlet for results of current (and future) assessment of groundwater in comprehensive plans, and 6) investigated means of long-term support of the web site to allow for maintenance and updating of information, data, and results from analysis of groundwater in comprehensive plans.

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