Protection of Wisconsin Waterways

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One of the beautiful things about Wisconsin is its waterways, including lakes, rivers, and streams; so in order to preserve them, there needs to be ways for the protection of Wisconsin's Waterways. In these waterways, Wisconsinites use it for leisure activities such as swimming, fishing, boating, and more. The waterways also provide natural habitats for its' native species. Wisconsin's waterways include more than 15,000 lakes [1] and about 12,000 rivers and streams [2]. Also, bordering the state of Wisconsin is two of the Great Lakes, Lake Superior and Lake Michigan, and also part of the Mississippi River.

General Information About Wisconsin's Waterways

Wisconsin's waters are used in large amounts each and every day. They are used for personal reasons, for providing energy, feeding livestock such as cows, farming, and more. To go further in depth of how Wisconsin's water is used and distributed, on average, each person in Wisconsin uses 56 gallons of water per day [3]. This can be both public uses, such as using water in public restrooms, or for private uses, such as pumping water from private wells. For providing energy, public Wisconsin utility companies use about 600 million gallons of water per day, (but at the same time, water treatment plants in Wisconsin release about the same amount for treated water.) [4]. More on this, Wisconsin uses over 7 billion gallons of water per day for thermoelectric power production.[5]. About 4 billion gallons of water a day goes toward Wisconsin fossil fuel power plants to be used and about 2 billion gallons of water are used in Wisconsin's nuclear power plants daily. [6]. For feeding livestock, such as cows, about 45 gallons of water is used per day, this is because it takes about that much water for a cow to produce 100 pounds, or 12 gallons of milk. [7]. With all the usage of Wisconsin's Waterways, there are inevitable issues that arise with them. To name a few, Wisconsin's Waterways are polluted with chemicals and toxins and the groundwater levels in Wisconsin is lowering.

Dumping of Chemicals and Pollutants Into Wisconsin's Waterways and Their Effects

One of the main contributors to pollution in Wisconsin's Waterways is factory farming. [8] This is because factory farming produces a lot of manure from livestock that ends up in the waterways, not only that but the amount of animal waste is very high too. [9] Another issue with factory farming is that over the years, the number of factory farms have increased, which also means more pollution is going to happen. [10] Some affects of runoff from factory farming includes things such as causing algae blooms in the waterways. [11] This makes the water unfit for activities such as fishing and swimming. The pollution from factory farms also make it hard to maintain and support wildlife in the waters. One incident of dumping chemicals into Wisconsin's waterways happened in 2012. In Madison, WI, 2,793,000 pounds of chemicals were dumped into Wisconsin's waterways by industrial facilities. [12] Some issues that this causes is the continuation of polluting the waterways, some of the chemicals may be cancer-causing, and lastly, the chemicals can potentially cause birth defects for newborns or infertility. [13]

Possible Solutions

For pollution and runoff from factory farming, Wisconsin will have to bring back local control of livestock. This is because livestock produces a lot of waste that then goes off into our waterways. Possible solutions for the pollution of Wisconsin's Waterways is to restore the Clean Water Act.[14] Restoring this will help to protect the waterways from things like pollution. Another way that Wisconsin is trying to protect its waterways is by involving the community to do something called water monitoring. This is where citizens go out and monitor the water, it's a way to inform the public about the issue of pollution. [15]


Wisconsin uses a lot of its' groundwater. Nearly 760 million gallons of groundwater is used per day. [16] Wisconsin has about 800,000 privately owned wells that people use to tap groundwater from. [17] Not only that, but more than 97 percent of Wisconsin's inland communities depend on groundwater as the source for their water supply. [18] One issue that arises with the groundwater in Wisconsin is that it is being pumped at a fast rate. As the Wisconsin John Muir Chapter, of the Sierra Club says, "Groundwater levels in aquifers in some areas of southeastern Wisconsin have dropped more than 450 feet below original levels due to intensive pumping." [19]. The effects of this include the lowering of the amount of groundwater in Wisconsin and also the amount of water in lakes and rivers as well.

Possible Solutions

To help with the issue of water levels lowering, Wisconsin will have to incorporate water conservation policies and protect the springs. [20].


  1. Wisconsin Water Library, "Wisconsin Water Facts,"
  2. Sierra Club: Wisconsin John Muir Chapter, "Protecting Water Resources," 2015,
  3. Wisconsin Water Library, "Wisconsin Water Facts,"
  4. Wisconsin Water Library, "Wisconsin Water Facts,"
  5. Wisconsin Water Library, "Wisconsin Water Facts,"
  6. Wisconsin Water Library, "Wisconsin Water Facts,"
  7. Wisconsin Water Library, "Wisconsin Water Facts,"
  8. Wisconsin Environment, "Save Our Lakes,"
  9. Wisconsin Environment, "Save Our Lakes,"
  10. Wisconsin Environment, "Save Our Lakes,"
  11. Wisconsin Environment, "Save Our Lakes,"
  12. Megan Severson, "2,793,000 Pounds of Toxic Chemicals Dumped into Wisconsin's Waterways," June 19, 2014,
  13. Megan Severson, "2,793,000 Pounds of Toxic Chemicals Dumped into Wisconsin's Waterways," June 19, 2014,
  14. Megan Severson, "2,793,000 Pounds of Toxic Chemicals Dumped into Wisconsin's Waterways," June 19, 2014,
  15. "Involving Local Citizens in Protecting Wisconsin's Waterways," July 2009,
  16. Wisconsin Water Library, "Wisconsin Water Facts,"
  17. Wisconsin Water Library, "Wisconsin Water Facts,"
  18. Wisconsin Water Library, "Wisconsin Water Facts,"
  19. Sierra Club: Wisconsin John Muir Chapter, "Protecting Water Resources," 2015,
  20. Sierra Club: Wisconsin John Muir Chapter, "Protecting Water Resources," 2015,

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