Web service shows water, water everywhere in Wis.

Wisconsin planners can now tap into a new Web site to ensure residents have access to safe drinking water.

The site, developed jointly by the Center for Land Use Education at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point and the Interior Department's U.S. Geological Survey's Wisconsin Water Science Center, uses data from several state and federal sources.

The state's Natural Resources Department, the university's Wisconsin Groundwater Coordinating Council and the USGS' Cooperative Water Program jointly funded the project.

The online service furnishes a consolidated access point for groundwater data. It also shows planners the types of data available, said Charles Dunning, assistant director at the Wisconsin Water Science Center.

'We hope it will help direct planners to other state agencies to do the next steps to address groundwater issues,' he said.

Data from the Web site, titled 'Protecting Wisconsin's Groundwater Through Comprehensive Planning,' is intended to help local governments protect their water supplies and assist owners of private wells evaluate groundwater potability.

The site offers a data repository separate from government agency databases and links to other resources for additional information, Dunning said.

The site incorporates select groundwater data and policy information from 16 federal, state and local agencies. Maps and other formats provide data for each of Wisconsin's 72 counties on sources of drinking water, groundwater-protection policies, money spent on cleanup, groundwater use, susceptibility of groundwater to pollutants and groundwater quality.

"This Web site gives local governments valuable county-by-county information and tools to help them do a better job of protecting this resource in their comprehensive planning processes," said Lynn Markham, land use specialist from the university extension service's Center for Land Use Education.

Wisconsin relies heavily on its groundwater ' 97 percent of communities in the state and nearly 1 million additional residents with private wells use groundwater daily. Of those private wells, up to 40 percent in some areas of the state show detectable levels of contaminants, including nitrates and pesticides.

About the Author

Kathleen Hickey is a freelance writer for GCN.

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