Protecting Wisconsin's Groundwater Through Comprehensive Planning
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  Washburn County
  This report provides the most current information and data found, as of May 2007, unless otherwise noted.
  Washburn County groundwater findings reports Washburn County full report Switch to Washburn 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. Washburn County has 5 municipal water systems.  Table showing water systems in Washburn County

GROUNDWATER PROTECTION POLICIES   Table showing water systems in Washburn County

  • 3 of 5 municipal water systems in Washburn County have a wellhead protection plan: Minong, Shell Lake and Spooner.
  • 2 of 5 municipal water systems in Washburn County have a wellhead protection ordinance: Shell Lake and Spooner.
  • Washburn County has not adopted an animal waste management ordinance.


  • Over $1 million has been spent on petroleum cleanup in Washburn County from leaking underground storage tanks, which equates to $115 per county resident.
  • No municipal water systems in Washburn County have spent money to reduce nitrate levels.

GROUNDWATER USE   Water use figure

  • From 1979 to 2005, total water use in Washburn County has increased from about 1.6 million gallons per day to about 4.6 million gallons per day.*
  • The increase in total water use over this period is due to increases in aquaculture, irrigation, and domestic usage.
  • The proportion of county water use supplied by groundwater has decreased from around 99% to 75% during the period 1979 to 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 Washburn County can be seen in the FULL REPORT or accessed through the map link above.


  • 94% of 120 private well samples collected in Washburn 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 Washburn 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 Washburn County.
  • 100% of 2 private well samples collected in Washburn County met the health standard for arsenic.


  • There are 24 open-status sites in Washburn County that have contaminated groundwater and/or soil. These sites include 12 Leaking Underground Storage Tank (LUST) sites and 12 Environmental Repair (ERP) sites.   BRRTS map
  • There is 1 concentrated animal feeding operation in Washburn County.
  • There is 1 licensed landfill in Washburn County.
  • There are no Superfund sites in Washburn County.

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Washburn County full report Washburn 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