Potatoes and Trout: Groundwater Model Optimization to Balance Agricultural and Ecosystem Stakeholder Needs in the Little Plover River Basin, Wisconsin
USGS Wisconsin Water Science Center
Video Not Available
Picture Not Available
The well-drained sandy soil in the Wisconsin Central Sands is ideal for growing potatoes, corn, and other vegetables. A shallow sand and gravel aquifer provides abundant water for agricultural irrigation but also supplies critical base flow to cold-water trout streams. These needs compete with one another, and stakeholders from various perspectives are collaborating to seek solutions. Stakeholders were engaged in providing and verifying data to guide construction of a groundwater flow model which was used with linear and sequential linear programming to evaluate optimal tradeoffs between agricultural pumping and ecologically based minimum base flow values. The connection between individual irrigation wells as well as industrial and municipal supply and streamflow depletion can be evaluated using the model. Rather than addressing 1000s of wells individually, a variety of well management groups were established through k-means clustering. These groups are based on location, potential impact, water-use categories, depletion potential, and other factors. Through optimization, pumping rates were reduced to attain mandated minimum base flows. This formalization enables exploration of possible solutions for the stakeholders, and provides a tool which is transparent and forms a basis for discussion and negotiation.