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Open-File Report 2009–1210

Estimating 1970–99 Average Annual Groundwater Recharge in Wisconsin Using Streamflow Data

By Warren A. Gebert, John F. Walker, and James L. Kennedy

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Average annual recharge in Wisconsin for the period 1970–99 was estimated using streamflow data from U.S. Geological Survey continuous-record streamflow-gaging stations and partial-record sites. Partial-record sites have discharge measurements collected during low-flow conditions. The average annual base flow of a stream divided by the drainage area is a good approximation of the recharge rate; therefore, once average annual base flow is determined recharge can be calculated. Estimates of recharge for nearly 72 percent of the surface area of the State are provided. The results illustrate substantial spatial variability of recharge across the State, ranging from less than 1 inch to more than 12 inches per year. The average basin size for partial-record sites (50 square miles) was less than the average basin size for the gaging stations (305 square miles). Including results for smaller basins reveals a spatial variability that otherwise would be smoothed out using only estimates for larger basins. An error analysis indicates that the techniques used provide base flow estimates with standard errors ranging from 5.4 to 14 percent.

First posted August 15, 2011

For additional information contact:
Director, Wisconsin Water Science Center
U.S. Geological Survey
8505 Research Way
Middleton, WI 53562

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Suggested citation:

Gebert, W.A., Walker, J.F., and Kennedy, J.L., 2011, Estimating 1970–99 average annual groundwater recharge in Wisconsin using streamflow data: Reston, Va., U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2009–1210, 14 p. plus appendixes, available at


Error Analysis
Example Applications
Selected References
Appendixes 1–12

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