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Central Sands Lakes Study

In the past several decades, we have witnessed low water levels in some Central Sands water resources, driven by weather and land use. Due to concern over the effect of land use, specifically groundwater pumping from high capacity wells, the DNR modeled and evaluated the impacts of groundwater withdrawals on lake levels for Pleasant, Long and Plainfield Lakes in Waushara County as directed by the Wisconsin State Legislature (2017 Wisconsin Act 10). The DNR, in collaboration with the Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Survey (WGNHS), United States Geological Survey (USGS) and the University of Wisconsin System, completed the Central Sands Lakes Study using an approach that involved data collection and groundwater flow modeling.

The key findings are that groundwater withdrawals cause reductions in Pleasant, Long, and Plainfield Lakes. The reductions are significant and impact the lakes’ ecosystems and human use in Long and Plainfield Lakes. The reductions to Pleasant Lake are not significant, however impacts to Pleasant Lake are near to significance thresholds. The DNR recommends a regional framework, such as a water use district, to address impacts from reduced water levels in the Central Sands Region. The DNR’s Findings and Recommendations Report , Report Appendices and Presentation were prepared for submission to the Legislature, as required, prior to June 3, 2021.

Public Participation

The DNR held a public comment period from April 6 until May 7, 2021 and hosted a public hearing on April 28, 2021. The DNR received over 70 sets of written and oral comments during the public comment period. Read the comments and DNR's response:

Central Sands Lakes Study Process
Central Sands Lakes Study Process

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