Is Lake Michigan Water Already Seeping into Waukesha Water?

WUWM. May 2, 2016
Susan Bence

That's false, according to USGS hydrologist Daniel Feinstein.

He was part of a team, along with the Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Survey, that modeled groundwater conditions in the southeastern Wisconsin region.

“Even if you pumped it at much higher rates, you’d have to pump for a thousand years or more before you would actually get water from Lake Michigan coming out of the wells,” Feinstein says.

He says the team looked back from the late 1800s through 2000. Heavy well pumping began after World War II.

Feinstein says Waukesha’s operation has represented only a fraction, about 25 percent, of the total deep pumping within the region. “If we’re talking about water coming out of the wells now, none is from Lake Michigan proper. It’s very far away and kind of armored by a shale bed the famous Maquoketa Shale,” he says.

However, Feinstein says all of the pumping region-wide has impacted how groundwater travels. “Water that under natural conditions flowed toward Lake Michigan, some of it is being reversed where it’s curling back. It was flowing toward Lake Michigan maybe under Milwaukee County and now it’s curling back,” he says.

So right now, what’s the impact to the Great Lakes Basin and Lake Michigan? “It’s non-detectable,” Feinstein says.