Protecting Wisconsin's Groundwater Through Comprehensive Planning
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  Marathon County
  This report provides the most current information and data found, as of May 2007, unless otherwise noted.
  Marathon County groundwater findings reports Marathon County full report Switch to Marathon 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. Marathon County has 17 municipal water systems.  Table showing water systems in Marathon County

GROUNDWATER PROTECTION POLICIES   Table showing water systems in Marathon County

  • 13 of 17 municipal water systems in Marathon County have a wellhead protection plan: Brokaw, Colby, Edgar, Hatley, Kronenwetter, Marshfield, Mosinee, Rib Mountain, Rothschild, Spencer, Stratford, Wausau and Weston.
  • 9 of 17 municipal water systems in Marathon County have a wellhead protection ordinance: Brokaw, Hatley, Kronenwetter, Mosinee, Rib Mountain, Rothschild, Spencer, Wausau and Weston.
  • Marathon County has adopted an animal waste management ordinance.


  • Over $30 million has been spent on petroleum cleanup in Marathon County from leaking underground storage tanks, which equates to $231 per county resident.
  • No municipal water systems in Marathon County have spent money to reduce nitrate levels.

GROUNDWATER USE    Water use figure

  • From 1979 to 2005, total water use in Marathon County has increased from about 40.7 million gallons per day to 68.2 million gallons per day.*
  • Industrial water use is the greatest component of use in the county and is responsible for the increase in total water use over this period.
  • The proportion of county water use supplied by groundwater has been increased from about 40% to 46% during the period 1979 to 2000 and decreased to 34% 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 Marathon County can be seen in the FULL REPORT or accessed through the map link above.


  • 85% of 762 private well samples collected in Marathon County from 1990-2006 met the health-based drinking water limit for nitrate-nitrogen.   Nitrate map
  • A 2002 study estimated that 12% of private drinking water wells in the region of Wisconsin that includes Marathon 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
  • 5,540 acres of land in Marathon County are in atrazine prohibition areas. Map showing atrazine prohibition areas in Marathon County
  • 100% of 22 private well samples collected in Marathon County met the health standard for arsenic.


  • There are 140 open-status sites in Marathon County that have contaminated groundwater and/or soil. These sites include 53 Leaking Underground Storage Tank (LUST) sites, 67 Environmental Repair (ERP) sites, 18 spill sites and 2 Voluntary Party Liability Exemption (VPLE) sites.  BRRTS map
  • There are 10 concentrated animal feeding operations in Marathon County.
  • There are 4 licensed landfills in Marathon County.
  • There are 3 Superfund sites in Marathon County.

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Marathon County full report Marathon 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 14, 2008