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``Groundwater Vulnerability in Kickapoo River Watershed

WI”—proposal to Nuzum Foundation Kickapoo Valley

Reforestation Fund
January 2009

The objectives of this research are to help local policymakers and managers
understand the hydrogeology of the study area in the Kickapoo River watershed,
and create a map that describes areas of groundwater vulnerability to aid decision-
making about land use and management. Historically, problems of well water
contamination have been numerous. Presently the average nitrate levels measured
in the towns of Viroqua and Jefferson are approximately 8 ppm.1 After the August
2007 storms, the City of Viroqua abandoned a municipal well because of bacterial
contamination. We also know our bedrock geology is characterized by near-surface
carbonate rock, fractured and commonly manifested at the surface as sink holes
and disappearing streams that serve as direct conduits into groundwater aquifers.
The data from the Northeastern Wisconsin Karst study (Erb & Stieglitz, 2007)
provide a warning and motivation for investigating the Kickapoo watershed area in
more detail to help decision-makers take a proactive stance on protecting the
groundwater resources. At the State level, DATCP is considering Karst Management
areas in the northeastern part of Wisconsin, in part, because of their ability to make
informed management decisions using the data generated from years of study. The
southwestern region is not as thoroughly studied and will be a secondary
consideration in Karst Management by the State.

The Study Setting and Collaboration

This study is proposed as a pilot for the Kickapoo River Watershed, limited in area to
towns near the City of Viroqua. This location is rich in domestic and municipal wells,
and carefully documented observation wells at the Vernon County Sanitary Landfill
north of Viroqua. The recent La Crosse County groundwater study2 reviewed some
of this Vernon County data as it defined aquifer elevations and dynamics. The
Kickapoo River regional groundwater resource studied in 1997 (Gaffield, Bradbury,
& Potter, 1998) provides some background local information. This area is also home
to high nitrate levels in domestic wells and may be part of a comprehensive study of
contaminant levels on a town basis.3 The City of Viroqua has also instituted a
wellhead protection plan and has concerns about the safety and sustainability of its
sole-source water supply.

Reconnaissance survey by the Vernon County LWCD, available via,
Study not published as of 12/2008, personal communication with Ken Bradbury at WGNHS
Grant application to University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point by the Vernon County LWCD

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Although the study area is limited, the collaboration between state and local levels
will make this an effective study. The Wisconsin Geological and Natural History
Survey (WGNHS) has reviewed this proposal, agreed to conduct a field day of
training on identification of surface karst features, and will provide analysis of
Vernon County data from the La Crosse County study. Charles Cameron of the
Department of Natural Resources La Crosse office has expressed willingness to
provide background information. David C. Wilson, Driftless Area Initiative
Coordinator in Lancaster, Wisconsin has supported the effort by providing
background research and has offered use of GPS units for field work, if needed.
Researchers at the University of Nebraska, University of Illinois at Chicago, and
Texas A&M University have offered to provide their electrical resistivity equipment
and expertise in the field to analyze groundwater dynamics in early summer of
2009. The Vernon County Land Information Committee has agreed to provide base
maps for fieldwork, Geographic Information System (GIS) mapping, and data
support. Should this grant be funded, the County Land Information Office will be
able to devote time to create analytical overlay maps that illustrate areas of
potential vulnerability. This study will also complement a grant being processed in
the Vernon County LWCD to do widespread well testing in a township. Valley
Stewardship Network has a citizen monitoring program that includes domestic well
monitoring. They have agreed to provide support for this effort on a fee for service
basis for field data collection. They can also be instrumental in garnering citizen
involvement as we work to identify karst features and monitor springs. And the
City Council of Viroqua is concerned and motivated to support this study and has
agreed to be fiscal agent for the grant with citizen volunteer leadership from Kelvin
Rodolfo, Professor Emeritus of the Earth and Environmental Sciences Department at
the University of Illinois at Chicago, and Lynn Chakoian, PhD Land Resources/MS Soil

The results from this pilot should provide a model for other areas of the Kickapoo
Watershed and expedite a more comprehensive county or regional geologic survey
in the future.

Vulnerability Mapping
We propose a two-fold study of the local groundwater system. The U.S. Geological
Survey Circular 1224 (Focazio, Reilly, Rupert, & Helsel, 2003) states the situation

Clearly, ground-water vulnerability is a function not only of the properties of

the ground-water-flow system (intrinsic susceptibility) but also of the
proximity of contaminant sources, characteristics of the contaminant, and
other factors that could potentially increase loads of specified contaminants
to the aquifer and(or) their eventual delivery to a ground-water resource.

The physical characteristics combined with the potential for load from contributing
land uses yield the most potent measure of vulnerability. To this end this study will

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gather and make useable in GIS format land management data within the study
area to overlay and analyze with the determined physical geology. Guides to
creating vulnerability maps (Focazio, Reilly, Rupert, & Helsel, 2003) (Commission on
Geosciences, 1993) cite three approaches: overlay and index methods, methods
employing process-based simulation models, and statistical methods. This study
will endeavor to use two of the three approaches.

Overlay and indexing will be the most useful method because maps can be
assembled using what data are available or easily compiled for a study area. Depth
of soil or infiltration characteristics of soil groups, land use attributes, and karst
features on the landscape all contribute to the likelihood that pollutants will reach a
drinking water aquifer. The limitation of this method is that the subjective
valuations of the importance of physical, or management characteristics can be
criticized as biased in the determination of which areas are scaled most-to-least

Simulation models provide a more scientifically-justified basis for managing land

based on assessments of vulnerability. A full county or regional study would
undertake this method, but it would be unrealistic for this small scale, limited
budget study to attempt groundwater modeling.

Statistical methods provide a study with predictive capacity although they require a
certain amount of data to generate sufficient statistical power to confirm
hypothesized patterns. If the Vernon County LWCD is awarded the grant to sample
the domestic wells in Viroqua, then the map generated via “overlay and index
methods” could be tested against the well nitrate level data. This opportunity to
ground-truth the map will enhance the managers’ confidence in the product We
will also employ electrical resistivity analysis to analyze the vertical hydrodynamics
in areas with abundant karst features. John Ong is a Filipino professional
hydrogeologist and currently is a PhD candidate at the University of Nebraska --
Lincoln, specializing in geophysical hydrogeology. He has agreed to bring electrical
resistivity equipment in the early summer to use in detecting water-saturated
vertical fractures. He will be helped in this work by two other former graduate
students of Kelvin Rodolfo: Zenon Mateo at the Integrated Ocean Drilling
Prp\ogram housed at Texas A & M University, and Caroline Jaraula, who just finished
her PhD in biogeochemistry at University of Illinois at Chicago.

This study will create a vulnerability map that uses overlay and index methods to
delineate areas at risk. We will ground-truth the results using all available data and
those collected by the research team headed by John Ong.

This project will provide training for local people to identify karst features at the
surface, and provide an internet interface to report these features to the local LWCD

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office for verification. We will also work with the WGNHS staff who are interested in
the development of a State Karst Database on line (after Gao, Alexander, & Tipping,
2005) and supply the findings from this study to that State database should it be
implemented during the timeframe of this research.

This project will identify springs in the study area and report them for inclusion in
the state database that is available via the WGNHS office.

We will build new GIS layers for the Vernon County system. Some existing
electronic data sets will be incorporated, analog data possessed by the LWCD staff
will be digitized for use, and new field data will be collected and digitized. This will
serve the purposes of this study, but set the stage for the areal extent of these
layers to be extended in the future as resources allow.

Our hope is that a vulnerability map product will be applied widely in the Kickapoo
Watershed to better inform managers and policy-makers for making their land use
decisions. We also hope it sets the stage for more detailed study of the area, and
useable, detailed databases to support that work.

1. Gather aquifer characterizations (Jan-Feb 2009)

2. Identify readily available data for GIS layers and begin digitizing analog data
(sp 2009)

3. Survey of springs using existing database and local knowledge, and start
monthly monitoring (sp 2009)

4. Develop an internet-based system for local reporting of karst features (sp


5. Field day to train local people to identify karst features on the landscape and
report them accurately and reliably. (WGNHS late spring 2009)

6. Promotion of reporting karst features (summer 2009)

7. Electrical resistivity analysis field investigation with visiting scholars (early

summer 2009)

8. Analysis of GIS layers, spring physical/chemical data and resulting map. (fall

9. Statistical analysis of water well data for town vs. map boundaries (winter

10.Final Report by Spring 2010

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Much of the expertise and labor for this project will be donated to the effort.

• Kelvin Rodolfo is Professor Emeritus of the Department of Earth and

Geological Sciences, University of Illinois at Chicago.

• Lynn Chakoian has a PhD from the Institute for Environmental Studies UW-
Madison (Nelson Institute) and has a Master of Science from the Soil Science
Department of University of Minnesota.

• The electrical resistivity team includes John Ong, Zenon Mateo and Caroline

• Statistical analysis provided by Kathleen Crittenden, Professor Emerita in the

Sociology Department of the University of Illinois at Chicago.

• Ken Bradbury will review our work and assist as time permits. He will provide
training for local people on how to reliably report karst features of the

• Fred Madison is a professor of Soil Science at UW-Madison and will serve as

our University of Wisconsin sponsor for the grant.

• City of Viroqua will be fiscal agent--contact is the City Administrator, Jeff

Goehlke, City of Viroqua, 202 North Main Street, Viroqua WI 54665. 637-3251
x18, cityadmin@mwt.net

The major costs of the study will be related to computer applications and GIS work
needed, and some field work provided by the Valley Stewardship Network, visiting
and local experts. Estimated costs:

• Karst reporting system for the local level. Google or on-line GIS (if available)
interface to identify where the feature is located and a simple database to
send details to the Vernon County LWCD, $700 computer programming, $300
to pay local informants (field time/travel) $200 assistance from Valley
Stewardship Network for WGNHS field day.

• System and personnel to digitize analog data into the GIS layers and Vernon
County GIS time to create the overlay and indexing map from existing data
layers and those digitized, $6,000

• Monitoring field work and lab analysis by Valley Stewardship Network, details
of the costs are attached and the number of sites/analysis will be adjusted to
a cost of approximately, $4,300

• Travel expenses for visiting scholars, $500

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Works Cited
Commission on Geosciences, E. a. (1993). Ground Water Vulnerability Assessment:
Predicting Relative Contamination Potential Under Conditions of Uncertainty. Washington
D.C.: National Academy Press.

Erb, K., & Stieglitz, R. (2007). Northeast Wisconsin Karst Task Force. Wisconsin: Karst Task

Focazio, M., Reilly, T., Rupert, M., & Helsel, D. (2003). Assessing Ground-Water Vulnerability
to Contamination: Providing Scientifically Defensible Information for Decision Makers. US
Geological Survey.

Gaffield, S., Bradbury, K., & Potter, K. (1998). Hydrologic Assessment of the Kickapoo
Watershed, Southwestern Wisconsin. Madison, Wisconsin: Wisconsin Geological and Natural
History Survey.

Gao, Y., Alexander, E. C., & Tipping, R. G. (2005). Karst Database Development, Design and
Data Assembly. Environmental Geology , 1072-82.

Hunt, R., Saad, D., & Chapel, D. (2007). Numerical Simulation of Ground-Water Flow in La
Crosse County, Wisconsin, and into Nearby Pools of the Mississippi River. Reston, VA: U.S.
Geological Survey.

Supporting Information

Karst Pilot Project

VSN Project Expense Budget

Water Monitoring of Springs Budget estimates

OPTION 1: Temperature Monitoring Only = $1,635.00

You could purchase 12 thermistors (temperature loggers) for the cost of $1,380 (Gary is
going to call a few DNR folks to see if we can get a break on the current cost of $115
each). The thermistors could read the temperature monthly or as frequently as you would
like especially pre and post storm events. Thermistors would save on staff time and
mileage expenses.

• 12 Thermistors = $1,380

o Staff Time for thermistor installation: 1 hour per site plus mileage (30
miles total)

 12 hours @ $10.00 = $120.00

 30 miles @ $.585 = $17.50

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o Thermistor data collection and compilation

 10 hours @ $10.00 = $100.00

 30 miles @ $.585 = $17.50

• Total Thermistor Expense = $1,635

OPTION 2: Temperature & E.coli Monitoring (6 months vs. 12 months) =


• Total Thermistor Expense = $1,635

• E.coli monitoring 6 times per year at 12 spring sites (sampling days will be
divided into two days in the field equaling six sites per monitoring day)

o Mileage (from VSN office to sampling sites, sampling sites to Leuther Labs,
Leuther Labs to VSN office) = 90 miles per day (180 miles for two days of

 180 miles @ $.585 (state mileage rate) = $105.30 x 6 monitoring

attempts = $631.80

o Lab Analyses: 72 (12 sites x 6 monitoring attempts) E.coli Tests @ $35.00

each = $2,520

o Staff Time (GT): 15 hours x 6 sampling months @ @10.00/hour = $900

OPTION 3: Temperature & E.coli Monitoring (12 months of sampling) = $8,103.60

• Sampling once per month for 12 months (July 1st, 2009 – June 30th, 2010) at 12
spring sites (two sampling days per month; six sites per day)

o Mileage (from VSN office to sampling sites, sampling sites to Leuther Labs,
Leuther Labs to VSN office) = 90 miles per day (180 miles for two days of

 180 miles @ $.585 (state mileage rate) = $105.30

• Mileage Expense Total (twelve months of sampling) =


o Lab Analyses

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 144 (12 sites x 12 months)E.coli Tests @ $35.00 each = $5,040

• Lab Expense Total = $5,040

o Staff Time (Gary Thompson)

 15 hours/month (includes sampling and data entry) @ $10.00/hour =

$150.00 x 12 months = $1,800.00

• Staff Time Expense Total = $1,800

*** extended parameter analysis (total nitrogen, ammonia and phosphorus) would cost an
additional $55.00 per sample.

WGNHS Karst Field Day Training Total Expense Budget = $200.00

• Staff Time (Gary Thompson)

o 20 hours for event organizing (PR, personal invite letters, meeting facilitation
and follow-up communication) @ $10.00/hour = $200.00

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Resumes of the Principle Investigators

Kelvin Rodolfo is concurrently Professor Emeritus with the Department of

Earth & Environmental Sciences, University of Illinois at Chicago, and Adjunct
Professor with the National Institute of Geological Sciences, University of the
Philippines – Diliman. This January and February he was a DOST “Balik Scientist” --
meaning “returning Scientist” – for the Philippine Government’s Department of
Science and Technology. He is serving another term as such this December through
February 2009.

After graduating from UP Diliman in 1958, he worked for two years as a petroleum
exploration geologist in Luzon, Cebu and Mindanao, and has been an interested
observer of the petroleum industry ever since.

He earned his Master of Science and PhD degrees at the University of Southern
California from 1960 to 1967, and rose from Instructor to Professor at the University
of Illinois at Chicago. He has taught sedimentology, the geological specialty
concerned with the origin and properties of the sedimentary rocks.

At UIC he won 6 Awards for Excellence in Teaching. For many years, he taught
Geologic Field Methods courses in the Black Hills of South Dakota and the St. Francis
Mountains of Missouri. His research, funded by 13 U.S. National Science Foundation
grants, has been published as 90 articles in international journals, monographs and
conference proceedings.

He was involved in plate tectonic theory and deep-sea scientific drilling in the
1970’s, then studied the lahars of Mayon Volcano in the Philippines in the 1980’s.
After surviving the climactic eruption of Pinatubo Volcano in 1991, he led a multi-
agency effort to study its lahars through the 1990’s, taking early retirement in 1994
to spend more time on hazard-mitigation research in the Philippines.

His book, “Pinatubo and the Politics of Lahar” won a National Book Award in 1995.

His research now focuses on land subsidence around Manila Bay caused by overuse
of groundwater, and the relative sea-level rise, worsening rain floods and tidal
incursions it causes, and the phenomena of Peak Oil and Global Warming. He
continues to teach courses on hazard mitigation, Peak Oil, and climate change, for
Honors College undergraduates at UIC and at the graduate level at the University of
the Philippines.

From 1973 to 2006, he and his wife Kathleen Crittenden owned a 60-acre farm in
Wisconsin’s Grant County, where they became intimately acquainted with the karst
geology that characterizes most of the four-state Driftless Area. Kathy and Kelvin
bought an 8-acre property outside Viroqua in 2006 that they are farming using

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permaculture techniques. There, they built an earth-bermed, solar-heated house
that is fully powered with photovoltaics and a wind generator.

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Lynn Chakoian earned a PhD in Land Resources in the Institute for
Environmental Studies, University of Wisconsin, Madison in 1998. Her Masters of
Science was in Soil Science from the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis/St. Paul.
Her experience in Vernon County has been focused on establishing non-profit
capacity to address environmental concerns in the area.

• She was an early board member of the Valley Stewardship Network (VSN)
(1999-2004) that has become a successful advocate for environmental
protection. She is currently on the advisory committee for their Food and
Farm initiative, and supportive of the citizen monitoring program and other
educational efforts of VSN.
• She was on the City of Viroqua Comprehensive Plan Commission from 2002-
2006 that resulted in completion and approval of the plan by the city and
• She was on the Vernon County Board from 2006-2008 and served on the Solid
Waste, Health and Zoning Committees.
• She is chair of the Vernon County Comprehensive Plan Commission (2007-
present) that is scheduled to complete the county plan by the end of 2009.
• She is on the Western Technical College Board of Directors (2008-present) as
a citizen member.
• She serves on the Viroqua Library Board (2007-present)
• She is the administrator of the community website called KickTime.org that
highlights area cultural, environmental and local food/commerce news and

Lynn’s previous work experience focused on non-point pollution control in counties

in Minnesota (Dakota County 1985-89; St Louis County 1991-93) and she
contributed to the Minnesota Handbook for erosion control on construction sites
(Board of Water and Soil Resources and Association of Metropolitan Soil and Water
Conservation Districts. 1989. Minnesota Construction Site Erosion and Sediment
Control Planning Handbook. St. Paul.) Her PhD work was published by the
International Institute for Environment and Development (PLA Notes 38:
Participatory Processes in the North; IIED, June 2000. 104 pp. Farmer-centered
extension education: the educational venue of pasture walks in Wisconsin USA and
the role of the facilitator.)

The Valley Stewardship Network (VSN) is a community-based, not-

for-profit 501(c)(3) organization that promotes stewardship and connects
communities throughout the Kickapoo Valley Watershed. VSN incorporated in
southwest Wisconsin in October of 2000 and has successfully supported four distinct
program areas: water quality monitoring, comprehensive planning, stewardship
education and food security.
Program Areas:
• Stewardship Education

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VSN regularly sponsors events and workshops for community members throughout
the region. Events include a Kickapoo River cleanup, invasive species field days,
and workshops and/or presentations on air quality issues, native species and
sustainable planning and other conservation topics. VSN publishes a bi-annual
newsletter, Kickapoo Visions, which has a distribution of about 2000 area residents.
• Water Quality Monitoring
For ten consecutive years VSN has coordinated volunteer citizen water monitors
with technical advice, resources and training. The VSN Water Quality Monitoring
Program is done in coordination with the Wisconsin Department of Natural
Resources and the River Alliance of Wisconsin. Information from the monitoring has
helped to support stream bank improvements and improved management practices.
In 2004 VSN began testing for bacteria in the Middle and Upper Kickapoo
• Comprehensive Planning - data gathering and mapping of the valley
VSN assists communities with resources and maps to aid in comprehensive
planning. We have some Geographical Information System or GIS capabilities that
can be used as a tool for assembling environmental data. The VSN Projects
Coordinator currently serves on two county comprehensive planning element
committees (Land Use Element Committee and Agriculture and Natural Resource
Element Committee) to assist the Planning Commission in drafting a Comprehensive
Plan for Vernon County. VSN has offered many community activities and
presentations to assist citizens in their acceptance of local planning. In addition,
VSN published the well-received Owning Rural Lands: A Guide for the Kickapoo
River Watershed in April of 2004. Due to increased demands, VSN published a
second edition in January of 2007.
• Food & Farm Initiative (Connecting Farmers and Community for
In the fall of 2007, VSN formed the Food & Farm Initiative to respond to local food
security issues. The VSN Food & Farm Initiative has the potential to: provide
healthful, nutritious food to local schools, institutions, and low-income families;
facilitate the growth of viable, community-based food businesses; link consumers
with local farmers; encourage and grant incentives to those practicing sustainable
farming methods; and most notably to build shared understanding and trust among
local food and farm stakeholders.

VSN has an active membership base of 250 and growing. VSN members include
those who live, work and play throughout the Kickapoo River Watershed, which
encompasses four counties (Monroe, Vernon, Richland, and Crawford), 28
townships, 14 villages, 2 cities and numerous unincorporated towns. In recent
years our membership has grown to include several individuals who reside out-of-
state but recognize and cherish the beauty and unique nature of the Driftless Area
in SW Wisconsin.

VSN is governed by a nine member Board of Directors. VSN Board Directors offer
representation of the Upper, Middle and Lower Kickapoo River Watershed. In
addition, our Directors bring unique backgrounds and perspectives to their
volunteer work at VSN. These include expertise in business, farming, marketing,
natural resource management, professional writing, falconry, psychology, and
community planning.

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The VSN Projects Coordinator is Jessica Luhning. Jessica handles program oversight
and development as well as administering all grant proposals. With a Bachelor of
Arts in Community Planning and a Masters of Science in Natural Resource and Rural
Land Use Planning, she brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the job.

The success of VSN’s Water Quality Monitoring (WQM) Program is largely due to the
generous contributions of Gary Thompson (WQM Coordinator). Gary has until
recently worked as an unpaid volunteer, investing offering many, many hours of
volunteer time to ensure the smooth operation and success of the WQM Program.
Gary has over ten years of water quality monitoring experience and has attending
numerous professional development workshops and trainings to expand his
knowledge base regarding watershed health and sustainable land use management

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