“Springs are an accessible representation of the groundwater. It’s easier to sample a spring than to install a groundwater monitoring well,” says Professor Sue Swanson.
Dr. Swanson is a Research Associate at the Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Survey who, while on sabbatical from Beloit College, led the first year of a 3-year statewide study of Wisconsin’s springs with Ken Bradbury and Dave Hart, hydrogeologists at the Survey.
Sue set field procedures for this county-by-county inventory and selected six “reference springs” for long-term monitoring. The reference springs are representative of Wisconsin’s geologic and hydrologic regions. Those springs are being monitored intensively to establish a baseline of physical, chemical, and ecological factors.
“If we can establish a baseline by sampling twice a year, then we can monitor these springs less frequently, say every few years, and still have a long term record to assess the effects of changes in land use, climate, or groundwater pumping.,” said Dr. Swanson.