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Water Supply

One of the main elements of the Commission’s water supply planning program is the Regional Water Supply Plan, which identifies appropriate sources of water supply to meet the 2035 projected water supply demands.

Water Supply Program Elements

The Commission’s water supply planning program includes three elements completed through interagency partnerships with the U.S. Geological Survey, Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Survey, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, and the water supply utilities serving the Region.

  1. Basic groundwater resource inventories (completed in 2002)
  2. Groundwater simulation model for the Region (completed in 2004)
  3. Regional Water Supply Plan (completed in 2010)

An important consideration for the water supply program is the Subcontinental Divide separating the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin from the Mississippi River Basin. This divide has significant water supply implications given regulations and policies regarding use of surface water from Lake Michigan.


Regional Water Supply Plan

The Regional Water Supply Plan is focused on meeting water demand through 2035. This demand was estimated based on the development recommendations of the 2035 Regional Land Use Plan. The plan also addresses several water supply issues in the Region, including groundwater depletion and conversion from groundwater to Lake Michigan supply where feasible.

Read Regional Water Supply Plan


Major Plan Components

The plan includes recommendations concerning:

  1. Sources of water supply
  2. Water conservation
  3. Groundwater recharge area protection
  4. Stormwater management practices
  5. High-capacity well siting practices
  6. Enhanced rainfall infiltration

The plan includes a series of additional recommendations that supplement the above elements. The plan recommendations, taken together, are intended to serve as the basis for providing a long-term, sustainable water supply for Southeastern Wisconsin.

  • Development of water supply service areas and of forecast demand for water use.
  • Development of recommendations for water conservation efforts to reduce water demand.
  • Evaluation of alternative sources of supply, resulting in recommendations for sources of supply and development of required supply infrastructure for each service area.
  • Identification of groundwater recharge areas to be protected from incompatible development.
  • Specification of new institutional structures found necessary to carry out the plan recommendations.

The Commission’s Environmental Justice Task Force (EJTF) guided a socioeconomic impact analysis of the Regional Water Supply Plan’s recommendations. The analysis was prepared in 2010 by the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s Center for Economic Development.