Ground-water flow and quality in Wisconsin's shallow aquifer system

Water-Resources Investigations Report 90-4171




The areal concentration distribution of commonmineral constituents and properties of ground water in Wisconsin's shallow aquifer system are described in this report. Maps depicting the water quality and the altitude of the water table are included. The shallow aquifer system in Wisconsin, composed of unconsolidated sand and gravel and shallow bedrock, is the source of most potable ground-water supplies in the State. Most ground water in the shallow aquifer system moves in local flow systems, but it interacts with regional flow systems in some areas. In terms of chemical quality, the water is suitable for potable supply and most other uses, but objectionable hardness in large areas and concen- trations of iron and manganese that exceed State drinking-water standards cause aesthetic problems that may require treatment of the water for some uses. Concentrations of major dissolved constitu- ents (calcium, magnesium, and bicarbonate), hard- ness, alkalinity, and dissolved solids are highest where the bedrock component of the aquifer is dolo- mite and lowest where the shallow aquifer is almost entirely sand and gravel. Concentrations of other minor constituents (sodium, potassium, sulfate, chloride, and fluoride) are less closely related to common minerals that compose the aquifer system. Sulfate and fluoride concentrations exceed State drinking-water standards locally. Extreme variability in concentrations of iron and manganese are common locally. Iron and manganese concentra- tions exceed State drinking-water standards in water from one-third and one-quarter of the wells, respectively. Likely causes of nitrate-nitrogen con- centrations that exceed State drinking-water stan- dards include local contamination from plant fertilizers, animal wastes, waste water disposed of on land, and septic systems. Water quality in the shallow aquifer system has been affected by saline water from underlying aquifers, primarily along the eastern and western boundaries of the State where the thickness of Paleozoic rocks is greatest.

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Ground-water flow and quality in Wisconsin's shallow aquifer system
Series title:
Water-Resources Investigations Report
Series number:
Year Published:
U.S. Geological Survey ; Earth Science Information Center, Open-File Reports Section [distributor],
iv, 42 p. :col. ill., col, maps ;28 cm.