Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Hydrogeology and simulation of ground-water flow in the Sandstone Aquifer, northeastern Wisconsin

January 1, 1998

Municipalities in the lower Fox River Valley in northeastern Wisconsin obtain their water supply from a series of permeable sandstones and carbonates of Cambrian to Ordovician age. Withdrawals from this "sandstone aquifer" have resulted in water levels declining at a rate of more than 2 feet per year. The U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the major water utilities in the Fox Cities area, the East Central Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission and the Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Survey, collected hydrogeological data and constructed a quasithree- dimensional, transient ground-water-flow model for use as a tool in assessing the water resources of the sandstone aquifer.

The rocks of the Sinnipee Group and Maquoketa Shale form the Maquoketa-Sinnipee confining unit that separates the sandstone aquifer from the overlying upper aquifer, which consists of unconsolidated deposits and permeable dolomite of Silurian age. The confining unit is present in the eastern part of the study area, but is absent in the western part, where the upper aquifer directly overlies the sandstone aquifer.

The ground-water-flow model simulates water levels in the two aquifers and vertical flow across the confining unit. Streams and lakes are simulated in the upper aquifer as head-dependent boundaries where the confining unit is absent and as constant head boundaries where the confining unit is present. The sandstone aquifer has constant heads assigned to the southern boundary, which is far from the lower Fox River Valley and coincident with a ground-water divide.

The model was calibrated to predevelopment, 1957, and 1990 water levels, and used to simulate steady-state predevelopment conditions and transient conditions from 1880 to 1990. The trend in simulated water levels over time was similar to trends in measured water levels. Simulated base flow to streams was within the calculated range of base flow at gaged streams. A groundwater divide that separates westerly ground-water flow to the Wolf River from easterly flow to the lower Fox River Valley and Lake Michigan was simulated.

Publication Year 1998
Title Hydrogeology and simulation of ground-water flow in the Sandstone Aquifer, northeastern Wisconsin
DOI 10.3133/wri974096
Authors T.D. Conlon
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Water-Resources Investigations Report
Series Number 97-4096
Index ID wri974096
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Wisconsin Water Science Center