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.
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:
Reports And Appendices
- Central Sands Lakes Study Report: Findings and Recommendations (May 2021)
- Appendix A - Central Sands Lakes Study Technical Report: Data Collection and Hydrostratigraphy
- Appendix B - Central Sands Lakes Study Technical Report: Lake Ecosystem Characterization and Response
- Appendix C - Central Sands Lakes Study Technical Report: Modeling Documentation
- Appendix D - Central Sands Lakes Study Technical Memorandum: Recharge
- Appendix E - Central Sands Lakes Study Technical Memorandum: General Lake Model
- Appendix F - Central Sands Lakes Study Technical Memorandum: Land Use in the Central Sands
- Appendix G - Groundwater Quantity Programs Summary
- Central Sands Lakes Study Data
- Central Sands Lakes Study Findings and DNR Recommendations (May 2021)
- Overview of the Central Sands Lakes Study (August 2020)
- An Overview of Central Sands Hydrostratigraphy (July 2020)
- Central Sands Glacial Geology, Hydrostratigraphy and Lake-Groundwater Interactions (August 2020)
- Modeling the Central Sands (October 2020)
- Lake Resource Evaluation Methodology (August 2020)
Click on the icons below to learn about the study components.
Hydrogeology Of The Central Sands
Pleasant, Long And Plainfield Lakes
Background & Outreach Resources
- Subscribe to receive email updates about the Central Sands Lakes Study.