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Groundwater Coordinating Council Overview

Wisconsin Groundwater Coordinating Council

The Groundwater Coordinating Council (GCC) is an interagency group that is directed by law to assist state agencies in the coordination and exchange of information related to groundwater programs.

Administrative support for the GCC is provided by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. However, the information contained herein does not necessarily reflect the views of the department.

Watch the video to learn more about the GCC.


When was the GCC created?

In 1984, the Legislature enacted Wisconsin Act 410 to improve the management of the state’s groundwater. This act required establishment of a Groundwater Coordinating Council (GCC) to be made up of representatives of state agencies with groundwater protection responsibilities.

What is the purpose of the GCC?

Wisconsin Groundwater Coordinating Council (GCC) Logo

The GCC is directed by s. 160.50, Wis. Stats., to “serve as a means of increasing the efficiency and facilitating the effective functioning of state agencies in activities related to groundwater management.” The GCC “advises and assists state agencies in the coordination of non-regulatory programs and the exchange of information related to groundwater, including, but not limited to, agency budgets for groundwater programs, groundwater monitoring, data management, public information and education, laboratory analysis and facilities, research activities and the appropriation and allocation of state funds for research.”

What does the GCC do?

The GCC meets quarterly to discuss issues of interest and make decisions regarding groundwater issues of concern. The following is a sampling of groundwater related activities that the GCC facilitates:

  • The GCC coordinates a joint solicitation for groundwater research and monitoring proposals among four state agencies.
  • The GCC promotes efforts to enhance the utility of groundwater monitoring and research funded by the state.
  • The GCC ensures consistency in groundwater education, data management and mapping efforts.
  • The GCC works with representatives of federal and local agencies to promote communication and coordination with state groundwater activities.
  • The GCC prepares an annual Report to the Legislature due each August.
  • The GCC sponsors and participates in forums and other outreach events to promote discussion of groundwater issues.

Groundwater law

Wisconsin's groundwater law

Dug interior of a well

Wisconsin's groundwater law, Chapter 160, Wisconsin Statutes, established the framework for a comprehensive approach to protect public health and welfare and the environment. The intent of this law is to minimize the concentration of polluting substances in groundwater through the use of numerical standards in all groundwater regulatory programs. The law applies to all groundwater in the state and is used by all state agencies in their regulatory programs that may impact groundwater.

Report to the legislature

Annual report to the legislature

GCC Report to the Legislature Cover photo

The Groundwater Coordinating Council is required by s. 15.347, Wis. Stats. [exit DNR], to prepare a report which “summarizes the operations and activities of the council..., describes the state of the groundwater resource and its management and sets forth the recommendations of the council. The annual report shall include a description of the current groundwater quality of the state, an assessment of groundwater management programs, information on the implementation of ch. 160, Wis. Stats. [PDF exit DNR], and a list and description of current and anticipated groundwater problems.”

A report is due each August for the preceding fiscal year.


GCC members

The GCC consists of high-level administrators of all state agencies with some responsibility for groundwater management plus a Governor's representative. The GCC also has two subcommittees to assist in its work. Additionally, the DNR has one permanent position with half-time responsibilities related to coordination of the GCC.


GCC subcommittees

UW-Stevens Point water resources students explore uranium levels in groundwater.
The GCC's research efforts touch all corners of
the state. Here, UW-Stevens Point water
resources students explore uranium levels in
groundwater. © William DeVita.

The GCC and its subcommittees regularly bring together staff from over 15 different agencies, institutions and organizations to communicate and work together on a variety of research, monitoring and data management, educational and planning issues. A strong network among GCC and subcommittee members leads to coordination across agency lines on a variety of groundwater-related issues. These activities regularly avoid duplication, create efficiencies, and provide numerous benefits to Wisconsin's taxpayers. 

Groundwater research and monitoring subcommittee

The GCC is directed to "advise the Secretary of Administration on the allocation of funds appropriated to the Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin under s. 20.285(1)(a) for groundwater research." Since 1992, a joint solicitation process has facilitated selection and funding of sound scientific research and monitoring to answer state priority needs.

Educational model of karst topography demonstrating how water may flow in the fractured bedrock.
Educational model of karst topography
demonstrating how water may flow in the
fractured bedrock. © DNR.

A comprehensive review process including the Groundwater Research Advisory Council (GRAC), the GCC's Monitoring & Research Subcommittee, and outside technical experts resulted in recommendations that were used by the University of Wisconsin System (UWS) and DNR in deciding which groundwater-related proposals to fund.

Outreach and partnership subcommittee

Successful groundwater management depends on dispelling myths and fostering public understanding of the resource. Through the cooperation of GCC agency partners, a new generation of students, parents and teachers are more aware of the complex relationship we have with groundwater, our valuable buried treasure. UW-Cooperative Extension - through the UW Water Resources Institute, the Environmental Resources Center and the Wisconsin Geologic and Natural History Survey (WGNHS) - takes the lead for outreach on general groundwater topics while each state agency provides information on their specific regulatory programs. Experience has shown that person-to-person outreach is the best way to engage the public in groundwater protection.


GCC meeting minutes

The GCC meets quarterly to discuss issues of interest and make decisions regarding groundwater issues of concern.