Protecting Wisconsin's Groundwater Through Comprehensive Planning
Image of checksLearn more about groundwaterIntegrate groundwater into your planFind data and polices in your areaBrowse for resourcesChecks

 Find data and policies in your area
  Bayfield County
  This report provides the most current information and data found, as of May 2007, unless otherwise noted.
  Bayfield County groundwater findings reports Bayfield County full report Switch to Bayfield County full report


  • Wisconsin has nearly 11,500 public water systems which meet the daily water needs of about 4 million people. Public water systems that are owned by a community are called municipal water systems. Bayfield County has 5 municipal water systems.  Table showing water systems in Bayfield County

GROUNDWATER PROTECTION POLICIES   Table showing water systems in Bayfield County

  • 5 of 5 municipal water systems in Bayfield County have a wellhead protection plan: Bayfield, Drummond, Iron River, Port Wing and Washburn.
  • 1 of 5 municipal water systems in Bayfield County has a wellhead protection ordinance: Bayfield.
  • Bayfield County has not adopted an animal waste management ordinance.


  • Over $8 million has been spent on petroleum cleanup in Bayfield County from leaking underground storage tanks, which equates to $545 per county resident.
  • No municipal water systems in Bayfield County has spent money to reduce nitrate levels.

GROUNDWATER USE   Water use figure

  • From 1979 to 2005, total water use in Bayfield County increased from about 4.3 million gallons per day to 13.0 million gallons per day. From 1979 to 1990, total water use in Bayfield County decreased from about 4.3 million gallons per day to 1.5 million gallons per day. From 1990 to 2005, total water use in Bayfield County increased from 1.5 million gallons per day to 13.0 million gallons per day.*
  • The increase in total water use over this period is due primarily to an increase in aquaculture. Notably irrigation, industrial and commercial usage has increased.
  • The proportion of county water use supplied by groundwater has decreased substantially since the period 1979 to 1995 from 97% to about 40% in 2005.*
  • Water use in Wisconsin is generally estimated for the following categories:
    • Domestic
    • Livestock
    • Aquaculture
    • Irrigation
    • Industrial
    • Commercial
    • Public use and losses
    • Thermoelectric or mining*

* Thermoelectric and mining data are not considered in water-use tables or figures on this web site. Thermoelectric-power water use is the amount of water used in the process of generating thermoelectric power. The predominant use of water is as non-contact cooling water to condense the steam created to turn the turbines and generate electricity.



  • Wisconsin has abundant quantities of high-quality groundwater, but once groundwater is contaminated, it's very expensive and often not technically possible to clean.
  • An evaluation of the susceptibility of groundwater to contamination in Bayfield County can be seen in the FULL REPORT or accessed through the map link above.


  • 100% of 103 private well samples collected in Bayfield County from 1990-2006 met the health-based drinking water limit for nitrate-nitrogen.   Nitrate map
  • A 2002 study estimated that 25% of private drinking water wells in the region of Wisconsin that includes Bayfield County contained a detectable level of an herbicide or herbicide metabolite. Pesticides occur in groundwater more commonly in agricultural regions, but can occur anywhere pesticides are stored or applied.   Statewide pesticide map
  • There are no atrazine prohibition areas in Bayfield County.
  • 100% of 4 private well samples collected in Bayfield County met the health standard for arsenic.


  • There are 33 open-status sites in Bayfield County that have contaminated groundwater and/or soil. These sites include 20 Leaking Underground Storage Tank (LUST) sites, 12 Environmental Repair (ERP) sites and 1 spill site.  BRRTS map
  • There are no concentrated animal feeding operations in Bayfield County.
  • There is 1 licensed landfill in Bayfield County.
  • There are no Superfund sites in Bayfield County.

return to top

Bayfield County full report Bayfield County full report

For more information about this web site, its contributors, and the data contained herein, click here.

For assistance in comprehensive planning, please contact Lynn Markham, UW-Stevens Point.
For assistance on groundwater, please contact Charles Dunning, USGS.
Page contact: Webmaster, USGS
Page last updated: January 15, 2008