The Growth in High Capacity Wells in the Six Wisconsin Counties Comprising the Central Sands

Where Are the Central Sands?

The Central Sands is made up of parts of six Wisconsin counties: Adams, Marquette, Portage, Waupaca, Waushara and Wood

What Is a High Capacity Well?

A high capacity well is one that has the capacity to pump more than 100,000 gallons of water per day--or any well that is part of a parcel where total pumping is permitted for more than 100,000 gallons per day. The growth of high capacity wells for agricultural irrigation and municipal water supply in the Central Sands region has been phenominal. The number of high capacity wells in the Central Sands Area has increased from fewer than 100 in the early 1950s to more than 3200 wells today!  


pre-1950 High Capacity Well Locations--24 HiCap wells

High Capacity Well Locations in the 1950's--141 added, 165 cumulative

High Capacity Well Locations in the 1970's--789 added, 1,477 cumulative

High Capacity Well Locations in the 2000's--399 added, 2,977 cumulative

Source: Center for Land Use Education

Summary of Rapid Rise in HiCap Well Application/Approval 2010 to 2012

The number of well permits applied for and granted in the Central Sands has accelerated since January 2010.  Follow the link to see an analysis of this disturbing trend

Historical Trends in HiCap Well Growth in the Central Sands

The Summer 2007 issue of  Wisconsin Rivers, published by the River Alliance, has two excellent artilces on this issue:

Connecting the Dots

Minding the Groundwater Store

We highly recommend this link Central Sands Hydrology Working Group

The Friends are tracking approvals and applications for HiCap wells in the Central Sands 2010 to present.