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Well records

WGNHS maintains two major sets of well data: Well Constructor’s Reports and Geologic Logs. More than 400,000 Well Constructor’s Reports are on file at WGNHS. Geologic Logs are prepared from examination of drill cuttings; approximately 7,000 are available.

Ordering information
Please use one of the following Well Record(s) Request Form to place an order for paper copies of Well Constructor's Reports/Geologic Logs:

Businesses: well record request for a SPECIFIC REPORT OR well record request for an AREA.

Private well owners: request for a DNR well constructor’s report.

Although we cannot at this time accept orders via the Internet, you may fax your orders to 608/262.8086.

Before you place your order, you may wish to read the Survey publication entitled Understanding Wisconsin Township, Range, and Section Land Descriptions, by Irene D. Lippelt. (Printed copies are available at no cost from our Map and Publication Sales office.) This brochure may help you to accurately define the locations of the well records that you are interested in acquiring.

Please note that matching specific WCRs to specific wells is extremely difficult and time consuming, especially in densely populated areas. The more information you can provide about your property, especially the name of the owner when the well was drilled, the better the odds of matching a WCR. Even under the best of conditions, we find only 40%–50% of the WCRs we look for.

For information on well abandonment procedures and forms, or to check whether a well abandonment form is on file for a specific well, please contact the appropriate regional office of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR). (WGNHS does not have any well abandonment data.)

Online information

The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection has created an interactive web map, providing access to scanned images of WCRs from 1936 through 1987. Most, but not all, counties will also have records from 1988 and 1989. This application was developed for use by state employees and was not originally intended or designed for use by the general public. It is now being made available to the public, but in an unsupported format.

To search for wells that are newer than 1988, search the DNR drinking water data.

The locations of WCRs shown on the map are based on the center of whatever legal description was reported by the well driller. For example, if the well driller reported Section 1 of Township 7 North, Range 20 East, the WCR will be shown at the center of that section. In sections with large numbers of WCRs, each point shown on the map can be linked to numerous records. The locations have not been field-verified.

About Well Constructor’s Reports
Contact Irene Lippelt (WGNHS) at 608/262.7430.

General information. Well Constructor’s Reports or Well Construction Reports (both are referred to as WCRs) are one- or two-page reports submitted to the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) by well drillers upon completion of a well (some test borings are included in the WCR file). (More information about drinking water supply and quality is available from the DNR.) Well drillers are required to give the well owner a copy of this report. WCRs should contain information about the well owner, owner’s mailing address, location of the well (most reports 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 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. (View a sample image of a WCR. ) Except in rare cases, none of this information has been field checked. Errors, especially with regard to the location of the well, are common.

DNR has traditionally filed their WCRs in chronological order by completion date. In 1980 and 1981, during a joint project between the DNR and the WGNHS, all the WCRs from 1936 (the first year reports were required) through 1979 were sorted by county, township, range, section and quarter section (if given), and then microfilmed. These WCRs were eventually scanned, along with the 1980–87 (and in many cases 1988 and 1989) WCRs. Note: The scanned images of 1936–87 (in most cases also including 1988 and 1989) WCRs are available for purchase from WGNHS on CD-ROMs. There is one CD per county, except for Milwaukee (2 CDs; these may be ordered separately) and Waukesha (5 CDs; these may be ordered separately). Price per CD depends upon the number of CDs ordered.

In 1988 DNR extensively revised the WCR, renaming it Well Construction Report. Each report has a Wisconsin Unique Well Number printed on the report. Labels with this number should have been sent to the well owner. All the information from these 1988 and newer WCRs is entered into a DNR computer database, which is available on one CD-ROM from DNR Private Water Supply (608/266.0153 or 608/267.7605). Note: The DNR CD does not contain any scanned images.

Due to budget constraints and the availability of the DNR database, we do not plan to photocopy or scan original paper WCRs from 1996 to present.

Availability of paper copies. Contact Irene Lippelt (WGNHS) 608/262.7430 if you have questions about WCRs.

Paper photocopies are only available from WGNHS. For WCRs from 1936 through most of 1995, we will send you photocopies of the original paper WCRs. More recent (>1995) WCRs (if specifically requested) will be printed from the DNR database on the DNR CD—these printouts are not photocopies of the originals. The cost of paper photocopies of the well constructor’s reports is $0.10 a page plus an hourly charge for labor. Searches for specific reports or areas cost a minimum of $10.00 plus first class postage and handling ($5.00 minimum). Large, continuous areas average $0.50 a page; small, discontinuous groups cost more per page. Rush and/or complicated orders, such as a radius around a site, usually cost more. It is best to allow about a week for processing an order. Orders are usually processed in a few days, but it is best not to rely on this because exceptions do occur (e.g., broken photocopy machine). Sending reports out Federal Express—using your account—costs an additional $5.00. Faxing reports costs an additional $1.00 per page (with a $5.00 minimum).

There are no returns or refunds for orders of photocopies (unless WGNHS makes an error), so please make sure you order the correct county, Township, Range, section(s) and quarter section(s). If we need to contact you because of an obvious locational error—such as a location in the middle of a lake—or an incomplete or illegible order, or because of a request made under special instructions, you will be charged for our time ($5.00 minimum).

In areas that did not have municipal water systems when homes were built there can be more than 700 reports per section. If you do not want all the reports in an area, then you may request a random selection of reports. For example—“about 12 reports per section for sections 4, 5, 8, and 9 in T7N R20E.” Such orders cost more per copy (since they are more labor intensive) and are only cost effective if your area of interest has more than approximately 50 reports.

About Geologic Logs
Contact Irene Lippelt (WGNHS) at 608/262.7430
for information about Geologic Logs or for ordering Geologic Logs without Well Constructor’s Reports (WCRs).

Geologic Logs are prepared from examination of drill cuttings. Well drillers are usually required to submit drill cuttings to WGNHS for wells which are: (1) high capacity (>70 gpm), such as irrigation or industrial wells, OR (2) public water supply wells, such as those for municipalities, schools, parks, or waysides. Unfortunately, there are many wells for which WGNHS should have samples, but doesn’t. Reasons include: (1) samples not collected by well drillers, (2) samples collected but not submitted to the Survey, (3) samples sufficiently damaged after collection so as to render them useless (4) samples collected but not labelled, therefore also useless, (5) very difficult or unusual drilling conditions, which make sample collection difficult and/or samples collected meaningless.

When drill cuttings (samples) are received from the well driller, WGNHS geologists prepare Geologic Logs. These Geologic Logs contain a detailed description of each sample. Because a sample is usually taken every 5 feet, these logs usually give much more detailed geologic information than the WCRs. View a sample Geologic Log (in PDF format). The Geologic Logs have not been microfilmed and are only available in paper form. They cost $1.00 each plus labor ($5.00 minimum per order) plus first class postage and handling ($5.00 minimum). Page-size index maps are available on request; view a sample index (in PDF format) for part of Walworth County. Special handling of orders costs more; please see fees for WCRs.

Every Geologic Log produced since 1936 should (but sometimes doesn’t) have a corresponding WCR. The two files are cross-referenced, but it would usually cost much more in hourly charges to have WGNHS personnel omit the few unnecessary WCRs than it would to pay for the copies. In rare cases the WCR was received after the Geologic Log had been published, and contains well construction data that is probably missing on the Geologic Log. Many Geologic Logs exist for wells for which no WCR was ever received.