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Fact Sheet 2009–3092

Groundwater Recharge in Wisconsin—Annual Estimates for 1970–99 Using Streamflow Data

By Warren A. Gebert, John F. Walker, and Randall J. Hunt

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The groundwater component of streamflow is important because it is indicative of the sustained flow of a stream during dry periods, is often of better quality, and has a smaller range of temperatures, than surface contributions to streamflow. All three of these characteristics are important to the health of aquatic life in a stream. If recharge to the aquifers is to be preserved or enhanced, it is important to understand the present partitioning of total streamflow into base flow and stormflow. Additionally, an estimate of groundwater recharge is important for understanding the flows within a groundwater system—information important for water availability/sustainability or other assessments.

The U.S. Geological Survey operates numerous continuous-record streamflow-gaging stations (Hirsch and Norris, 2001), which can be used to provide estimates of average annual base flow. In addition to these continuous record sites, Gebert and others (2007) showed that having a few streamflow measurements in a basin can appreciably reduce the error in a base-flow estimate for that basin. Therefore, in addition to the continuous-record gaging stations, a substantial number of low-flow partial-record sites (6 to 15 discharge measurements) and miscellaneous-measurement sites (1 to 3 discharge measurements) that were operated during 1964–90 throughout the State were included in this work to provide additional insight into spatial distribution of annual base flow and, in turn, groundwater recharge.

First posted August 26, 2011

For additional information contact:
Center Director, Wisconsin Water Science Center
U.S. Geological Survey
8505 Research Way
Middleton, WI 53562
(608) 828-9901

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Suggested citation:

Gebert, W.A., Walker, J.F., and Hunt, R.J., 2011, Groundwater recharge in Wisconsin—Annual estimates for 1970–99 using streamflow data: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2009–3092. 4 p., available at



How Were Estimates of Baseflow and Recharge Obtained?

What Was Learned from This Study?

Has Annual Recharge Increased Since the Early 1900s?

References Cited

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