Over the past two summers, the Little Plover River in Wisconsin has dried up, showing the need for water conservation in Portage County. Dropping groundwater levels can create major problems, from drying up of private wells, to an increase in water contamination and lower lake levels that can hurt shoreline property values. Groundwater levels in Portage County, Wisconsin are the lowest they've been in 50 years.
While fluctuations in water levels are to be expected, a 10 percent decrease in precipitation over the last two years has not helped the situation. The average family uses 60 gallons of water per day. Stevens Point's daily consumption is 7 million gallons. Lake levels in the central and northern portions of the state are low.
Long Lake near Plainfield, which normally spans 40 acres and is 10 to 12 feet deep, was only about one acre and inches deep this past summer. In Waukesha County, New Berlin is seeking to divert water from Lake Michigan to address its water problems and has met opposition from the governor of Michigan in doing so. Soil content can have an impact on groundwater levels, since less water is stored in rock cracks than in sand. In the northwest corner of Portage County, granite bedrock is prevalent.
The village of Junction City municipal wells draw 50 gallons of water per minute, compared with the 1,000 gallons per minute that are drawn from the Stevens Point, Whiting and Plover wells. Private wells in Junction City draw between two and three gallons per minute, while those in the southwest corner's sand plane draw 20 gallons per minute. That portion of the county, which includes the towns of Grant, Pine Grove and parts of Buena Vista, also is the most affected by low groundwater levels because of the heavy irrigation use.