Wisconsin’s groundwater is a valuable resource. Approximately two-thirds of Wisconsin residents get drinking water from groundwater, and our rich aquifers feed springs, streams, rivers and lakes throughout the state. Moreover, groundwater is used throughout the state to irrigate crops. Preserving this resource is critical for protecting Wisconsin’s aquatic ecosystems, maintaining our economy, and maintaining the health of Wisconsin’s residents.

 Key Points

  • 70% of Wisconsin residents and 95% of communities get their drinking water from groundwater supplies.[1]
  • 30% of all freshwater on Earth occurs as groundwater (compared to <1% from lakes and rivers). [2]
  • Wisconsin has an estimated 1.2 quadrillion (million billion) gallons of groundwater.[3]
  • In 2013, Wisconsin groundwater withdrawals totaled 250 billion gallons, with 40% used for agricultural irrigation in the state and 37% used for municipal water supplies.[4]


Clean Wisconsin's Work

Clean Wisconsin has a long history of fighting for safe and plentiful groundwater. For more information see: Protecting Our Groundwater

Our ongoing work focuses heavily on strengthening the 2004 Groundwater Protection Act (Act 310), the first groundwater protection plan in the state. Clean Wisconsin was integral to instituting this plan. Act 310 was a good first step in protecting the state’s groundwater, but has proven inadequate for the long-term protection of the waters of Wisconsin. Clean Wisconsin continues working towards a comprehensive long term plan for protecting our groundwater.

Related Topic Pages

Groundwater Pumping and Use
Groundwater is an important resource that is used for drinking water, agriculture, and many industries. This page discusses groundwater pumping and related issues around groundwater quantity in Wisconsin.

Groundwater Pollution
A majority of Wisconsinites rely on groundwater for their drinking water. However, groundwater supplies can be contaminated by a number of pollutants. This page discusses groundwater contamination in Wisconsin.

Waukesha Water Diversion
As part of a county that straddles the Great Lakes basin , the city of Waukesha is eligible, under the rules of the Great Lakes Compact, to apply for a diversion of water from the Great Lakes. As Waukesha has struggled with water quality and quantity problems for many years, it has chosen to apply for a 10.1 million gallon/day diversion. Wisconsin’s Department of Natural Resources and the other eight Great Lakes states must apply the standards in the Great Lakes Compact to Waukesha’s proposal and approve or deny it.

Cited Resources
  1. UW Stevens Point and UW-Extension. nd. Center for Watershed Science and Education.  Last accessed April, 2015.
  2. United States Geological Survey. 2014. “The Water Cycle.”  Last accessed April, 2015.
  3. Wisconsin Water Library. “Wisconsin Water Facts.” University of Wisconsin Water Resources and Sea Grants Institutes. Last accessed April, 2015.
  4. Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. 2014. “Wisconsin Water Use: 2013 Expanded Withdrawal Summary.” Last accessed April, 2015.


Did we miss something? Let us know by emailing You can support our work by becoming a member of Clean Wisconsin at Please cite this resource as: Clean Wisconsin, Inc. “Groundwater.” Clean Wisconsin Enviropedia. Retrieved from

Last updated: 6/9/2015