Protecting Wisconsin's Groundwater Through Comprehensive Planning
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  Vilas County
  This report provides the most current information and data found, as of May 2007, unless otherwise noted.
  Vilas County groundwater findings reports Vilas County full report Switch to Vilas 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. Vilas County has 3 municipal water systems.  Table showing water systems in Vilas County

GROUNDWATER PROTECTION POLICIES   Table showing water systems in Vilas County

  • 2 of 3 municipal water systems in Vilas County have a wellhead protection plan: Land O' Lakes and Phelps.
  • 0 of 3 municipal water systems in Vilas County have a wellhead protection ordinance.
  • Vilas County has not adopted an animal waste management ordinance.


  • Over $17 million has been spent on petroleum cleanup in Vilas County from leaking underground storage tanks, which equates to $769 per county resident.
  • No municipal water systems in Vilas County have spent money to reduce nitrate levels.

GROUNDWATER USE   Water use figure

  • From 1979 to 2005, total water use in Vilas County has increased from about 1.3 million gallons per day to about 7.9 million gallons per day.*
  • The increase in total water use over this period is due almost entirely to an increase in aquaculture and irrigation uses after 1995 to 2005.
  • The proportion of county water use supplied by groundwater has decreased from about 100% during the period 1979 to 1995 to about 30% by 2000 and 37% 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 Vilas County can be seen in the FULL REPORT or accessed through the map link above.


  • 99% of 521 private well samples collected in Vilas 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 Vilas 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 Vilas County.
  • 100% of 4 private well samples collected in Vilas County met the health standard for arsenic.


  • There are 17 open-status sites in Vilas County that have contaminated groundwater and/or soil. These sites include 9 Leaking Underground Storage Tank (LUST) sites and 8 Environmental Repair (ERP) sites.   BRRTS map
  • There are no concentrated animal feeding operations in Vilas County.
  • There is 1 licensed landfill in Vilas County.
  • There are no Superfund sites in Vilas County.

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Vilas County full report Vilas 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