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Well constructor’s reports now available on CD-ROM

The Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Survey is now selling well constructor’s reports (WCRs) by county on CD-ROM. The CD-ROMs contain scanned images of the currently available original paper copies, most dating from 1936 through 1989, which number approximately 350,000.

What are well constructor's reports?
Upon completion of wells, drillers submit one- or two-page well constructor’s reports (also called well construction reports) to the Department of Natural Resources; these reports are then forwarded to and housed at the Survey. The WCRs usually contain the name of the well owner, owner's mailing address, location of the well (most WCRs do not list street addresses and some do not list quarter sections), distances from the well to buildings, sewers, silos, animal yards; the construction of the well, including diameters and lengths of drillhole and of casing, liner, or screen; the geologic materials the driller observed during drilling of the well; water level and pumping test data; the well driller’s name and address; the date the well was completed; and the date that a water sample was sent to a laboratory for analysis. Only in rare cases has any of this information been field checked. Errors, especially with regard to the location of wells, are common.

For more than 20 years, the Survey has sold paper copies of WCRs and will continue to offer this service. However, many customers will find that purchasing the CDs will save them the time and expense of having WCRs searched for and photocopied by Survey staff. Reports are available on CD by county; the complete collection for the state can be purchased at a significant savings. Please see our WCR CD-ROM order form (which is in Adobe® Acrobat® PDF format; if you do not have Acrobat Reader, you may download it at no charge from Adobe) for pricing details. MasterCard and Visa customers may telephone their orders (608/263.7389) between the hours of 8 am and 4:30 pm, Monday through Friday or by fax (608/262.8086).

What do the CDs include?
The CDs contain scanned images of the WCRs—the information is not in database form. (View a sample WCR image from Grant County, Wisconsin.) However, the basic location information (county, township, range, section, and 1/4, 1/4, 1/4 section) has been entered into a simple database, included on the CD, that enables users to search for WCRs on each CD by location.

In addition to the images and the database, each CD contains a map of Wisconsin showing counties and Educational Series 44, Understanding Wisconsin township, range, and section descriptions. Both are in PDF format and can be viewed with Adobe Acrobat.

Try before you buy!
The CDs do not contain software to view the images or to use the database; users will need to supply their own viewing and database/spreadsheet software. Because the CDs are not returnable, we have developed a sample set for potential users to ensure that they are able to use the information. The zipped test file includes 18 WCR images from Grant County, their accompanying database, and a file that explains the database structure. (The names of the well owners have been deleted from these test images; however, owner names are included on WCR images on the CDs.)

The sample files have been compressed into one zipped file; you will need special software to unzip the files. Many computers come with such software; if yours does not, you can find many freeware varieties on the Internet. For example, visit the Web site <http://www.zip995.com>.

Save (do not choose the “open file” option) the zipped file to your computer, and then unzip it with your chosen software.

Download the sample set test file.

Scanned images take up a great deal of computer memory. It is not practical to put them in the same database as the location information, because then the database would run much too slowly (if at all). Therefore, the images are separate from the database, and a large number of CDs are needed to cover the state.

The basic location information (county, township, range, section, and quarter sections) was entered into a simple database so that you may search for WCRs by location. The structure of this database is included on the CD in the file structure.pdf. The database and the images are linked by the alpha-numeric name of the image (field name IMAGE_NO) composed of a two-character abbreviation for the county and a number that is unique within a given county, for example, CO619.tif.

To search, import the database (for example, for Columbia County the file name is COLUMBIA.dbf within the folder WcrData) into your software package (Exel, Access, or Paradox). You can sort the entire database by township, range, section, and quarter section, and scroll to the location you are interested in, or you can search for a specific township, range, section, and quarter section. You will need to print out (or write down) the image numbers (shown in the field named IMAGE_NO) for the locations of interest to you. Exit the database and open the folder WcrImages, sort the images by name (if necessary), and then look for the image numbers that you found in the database. Please note that the image numbers will be in ASCII order, which is not quite the same as numerical order. Numbers will be listed in the order: 1, 10, 100, 1000, then 1001, 1002 through 1009, then 101, 1010, etc. Just think of it as sorting the leftmost digits first, then moving to the next digit to the right. If a WCR has more than one page, the following pages have the same file name as the first page, except that it will have _x added to the file name before the extension, x representing the page number. For example, page 2 of the file CO1025.tif would be named CO1025_2.tif.

Please be aware that some WCRs were submitted without a location, or with only a partial location; therefore, some WCRs have some or all of the location fields blank. In addition, locations as reported on many WCRs may be in error. If you are searching for a WCR and cannot find it in the correct section, you may wish to search for it first in the surrounding sections, and then in the records at the beginning of the township that do not list a section. (WCRs that listed multiple sections were data entered with the section field blank.) If you have an owner’s name, then it may also be worth checking the records that are missing the township and/or range information.