Protecting Wisconsin's Groundwater Through Comprehensive Planning
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  Columbia County
  This report provides the most current information and data found, as of May 2007, unless otherwise noted.
  Columbia County groundwater findings reports Columbia County full report Switch to Columbia 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. Columbia County has 14 municipal water systems.  Table showing water systems in Columbia County

GROUNDWATER PROTECTION POLICIES   Table showing water systems in Columbia County

  • 7 of 14 municipal water systems in Columbia County have a wellhead protection plan: Cambria, Harmony, Lodi, Pardeeville, Portage, Randolph and Wisconsin Dells.
  • 5 of 14 municipal water systems in Columbia County have a wellhead protection ordinance: Cambria, Harmony, Lodi, Pardeeville and Portage.
  • Columbia County has adopted an animal waste management ordinance.


  • Over $20 million have been spent on petroleum cleanup in Columbia County from leaking underground storage tanks, which equates to $366 per county resident.
  • 2 municipal water systems in Columbia County have spent money to reduce nitrate levels.

GROUNDWATER USE    Water use figure

  • From 1979 to 2005, total water use in Columbia County has increased from about 8.8 million gallons per day to 11.0 million gallons per day in 1995 and decreased to 9.5 million gallons per day in 2005. *
  • The increase in total water use to 1995 over this period is due primarily to an increase in industrial and irrigation use, despite slight fluctuations in irrigation and commercial use. Domestic usage increased since 1995 to 2005.
  • The proportion of county water use supplied by groundwater decreased from about 99% to about 84% from 1979 to 2000 and increased to 98% 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 Columbia County can be seen in the FULL REPORT or accessed through the map link above.


  • 80% of 1,073 private well samples collected in Columbia County from 1990-2006 met the health-based drinking water limit for nitrate-nitrogen.   Nitrate map
  • A 2002 study estimated that 62% of private drinking water wells in the region of Wisconsin that includes Columbia 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
  • 84,475 acres of land in Columbia County are in atrazine prohibition areas. Map showing atrazine prohibition areas in Columbia County
  • 91% of 11 private well samples collected in Columbia County met the health standard for arsenic.


  • There are 79 open-status sites in Columbia County that have contaminated groundwater and/or soil. These sites include 40 Leaking Underground Storage Tank (LUST) sites, 37 Environmental Repair (ERP) sites, 1 spill site, and 1 Voluntary Party Liability Exemption (VPLE) site.  BRRTS map
  • There are 2 concentrated animal feeding operations in Columbia County.
  • There is 1 licensed landfill in Columbia County.
  • There are no Superfund sites in Columbia County.

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Columbia County full report Columbia 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