Mon July 30, 2012
Weather, Irrigation Threaten Little Plover River
A famous trout stream in central Wisconsin is on the verge of drying up again. The Little Plover River is being impacted by the dry weather and heavy use of irrigation wells.
A Class One trout stream once known for its trophy fish, the Little Plover River has a troubled recent history. UW-Stevens Point hydrologist George Kraft says the river is only a few weeks away from drying up again, "2005 to 2009 it dried up at least once every year. We had some big rains in 2010 and 2011, it took an uptick. But now with the pumping that's going on this year, we could be headed towards another dry up. We're definitely below healthy flows."
Kraft says the water table is dropping an inch every two days, due to more than 3000 high capacity wells used mostly for irrigation in what's known as the central sands region, "In the last bunch of years we've been seeing a lot of expansion of irrigation. New wells, pipelines from existing wells to new fields, and we're irrigating way more field corn, soybeans and even hay now then we used to be."
Kraft says if there isn't a break in the pumping, the dropping water table could also again impact a number of regional lakes, "The famous Long Lake near Plainfield that dried up completely. Wolf Lake, we can't use the county park here in Portage County anymore because the water levels are too low. There's probably a couple of dozen of these lakes in Waushara, Portage and a chunk of Adams County that are being impacted by the pumping."
George Kraft notes that trout streams outside the irrigated area appear to be doing well, a fact noted in a recent press release from the DNR. He says the central sands region needs a management plan for its water table.