Developing a County Groundwater Website: A How to Guide Based on the Experience of Portage County, Wisconsin
Kilkenny-Tittle, Denise A.
University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, College of Natural Resources
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In Portage County, Wisconsin, groundwater supplies virtually all of the county's residential, agricultural, and industrial water needs. However, both private and public wells have experienced contamination problems. Portage County has developed an extensive database on the groundwater resource, but its effective use by Portage County citizenry has been hindered due to the lack of a central location and access. The Portage County Groundwater Citizens Advisory Committee (PCGCAC) has identified public education and involvement as a top priority to support long-term effective management of the county's groundwater resource. The PCGCAC has chosen a website as their method of outreach. The Portage County Groundwater Website offers the 67,400 Portage County residents an opportunity to increase their awareness, knowledge, and skills regarding the Portage County groundwater resource. The website provides easy access to a central location for groundwater information and data, groundwater education, and avenues for involvement and participation. The website meets the committee's goals of educating the public, receiving public input on proposed groundwater management strategies, and enabling people to make informed groundwater decisions. Over an eighteen-month period, the website was constructed in four phases: building the foundation, building the framework, building the pages, and advertising and promoting the website. The website at http://www.uwsp.edu/water/portage contains over 175 pages in the following categories: Understanding Groundwater, Teaching and Learning, Managing the Resource, Taking Action, Kid's Stuff, Calendar, More Information, Ideas and Comments, What's New, and Search. This website is the first of its kind devoted solely to a county resource-groundwater. It could be used as a model for others to build a similar website. In fall 2001, the website was turned over to Portage County and the PCGCAC for future maintenance and upkeep. This project was created through a partnership between Portage County and the College of Natural Resources at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point (UWSP).