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An evaluation of the bedrock aquifer system in northeastern Wisconsin

Water-Resources Investigations Report 85-4199

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Abstract

Ground water is a major source of water in northeastern Wisconsin. The lower Fox River valley, located between Lake Winnebago and Green Bay in northeastern Wisconsin, is the second largest population center in Wisconsin. By 1957, ground-water withdrawals had lowered the potentiometric surface of the aquifer system as much as 440 feet below prepumping levels. With the exception of the city of Green Bay, which converted from ground water to surface water (Lake Michigan) for their municipal water supply in 1957, ground-water withdrawals have continually increased.

The report evaluates the bedrock aquifer system in northeastern Wisconsin and describes how the flow regimes in the system have been altered due to ground-water withdrawals. A three-dimensional finite-difference groundwater flow model was used to aid in evaluation of the regional flow system. In order to simplify the study of the aquifer system, the geologic units were grouped into eight geohydrologic units consisting of four aquifers and four confining beds. The aquifers are the more permeable sand and gravel layers in the surficial deposits (aquifer 4), Devonian dolomite-Silurian dolomite (aquifer 3), St. Peter Sandstone- Prairie du Chien Group-Jordan Sandstone Member of the Trempealeau Formation (aquifer 2), and the Galesville Sandstone-Eau Claire Sandstone-Mount Simon Sandstone (aquifer 1). The confining beds are the less permeable silts and clays in the surficial deposits (confining bed 4), Maquoketa Shale-Galena Dolomite-Decorah Shale-Platteville Formation (confining bed 3), St. Lawrence Member of the Trempealeau Formation-Franconia Sandstone (confining bed 2), and the Precambrian crystalline rock (confining bed 1).

The following aquifer and confining-bed characteristics were determined to represent the aquifer system of northeastern Wisconsin and were used in the development of the model. Aquifer 4 acts as an upper boundary of the bedrock aquifer system. The hydraulic conductivity of aquifer 3 was 7.9 feet per day and the storage coefficient was estimated to be 0.01. Transmissivity input values to the model for aquifer 2 are based on hydraulic conductivities ranging from 3 to 8 feet per day. The storage coefficient for aquifer 2 was 0.0002. The transmissivity input values to the model for aquifer 1 are based on hydraulic conductivities ranging from 2.5 to 8 feet per day and the storage coefficient was 0.0002. Confining bed 4 acts as an upper confining unit for the underlying bedrock aquifers. A vertical hydraulic conductivity of 0.007 foot per day was assigned to represent confining bed 4. The vertical hydraulic conductivity of confining bed 3 was assigned values of 0.0001 to 0.000004 foot per day. A value of 0.00001 foot per day was used as the vertical hydraulic conductivity for confining bed 2. Confining bed 1 is a lower boundary of the system and was not modeled.

Model simulations indicate that, by 1914, ground-water withdrawals from the aquifer system had already impacted the study area. Pumping in the Green Bay metropolitan area had lowered the potentiometric heads in aquifer 1 by 69 feet and in aquifer 2 by 55 feet. Model simulations indicate that, by 1981, ground-water withdrawals have caused a cone of depression centered in the city of De Pere area. The influence of the cone affects almost the entire study area and has significantly altered the horizontal and vertical flow regimes in the aquifer system. In 1981, computed drawdowns below the prepumping potentiometric surface of aquifer 1 range from 0 feet on the western side of the study area to 330 feet in the center of the cone of depression. In aquifer 2, the computed drawdown ranges from 0 feet on the western side of the study area to 253 feet in the center of the cone.

Study Area

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Report
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Title:
An evaluation of the bedrock aquifer system in northeastern Wisconsin
Series title:
Water-Resources Investigations Report
Series number:
85-4199
Year Published:
1987
Language:
English
Publisher:
U.S. Geological Survey
Contributing office(s):
Wisconsin Water Science Center
Description:
v, 48 p.
Country:
United States
State:
Wisconsin
Online Only (Y/N):
N
Additional Online Files (Y/N):
N