Winter 2007

Wisconsin Dells, originally known as Kilbourn, began as a remote scenic destination for railway travelers from St. Paul, Milwaukee, and Chicago. Thanks to the area’s vast water resources, the Dells now boasts the nation’s largest waterpark and has launched a new, booming industry of indoor waterpark resorts. (Wisconsin Historical Society images: “Wisconsin Dells Advertisement”)
UW Water Resources Research

Water Researchers Head to the Dells

By Kathleen Schmitt

Wisconsin’s vast water resources have played a large role in the state’s history, and they continue to shape its future. Some of the most iconic industries in the state depend on dependable, large quantities of clean water. For instance, a dairy cow drinks 45 gallons of water a day to produce 12 gallons of milk, and brewing just one barrel of beer requires 1,500 gallons of water. At Noah’s Ark in Wisconsin Dells, America’s largest waterpark, it takes five million gallons of water to fill the pools and operate the three miles of waterslides.

For the past three decades, water scientists and managers from all over Wisconsin have met to discuss the latest research on the state’s most valuable asset, as well as the impending issues facing it. This year’s annual meeting of the Wisconsin section of the American Water Resources Association (AWRA) will take place March 1-2 at the Chula Vista Resort in Wisconsin Dells.

The theme of the meeting is “The Future of Wisconsin’s Water Resources: Science and Policy,” and it will include over 60 oral and poster presentations addressing a wide range of water resources topics. Students are strongly encouraged to attend the conference to learn, network, and gain experience in presenting their work. As such, AWRA offers a special reduced student registration rate of $30 ($45 after February 16), as well as several awards for the best student presentations.

An opening plenary session will highlight the state’s recent groundwater legislation, as discussed by speakers Todd Ambs (Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources), M. Carol McCartney (Ayres Associates), and Jodi Habush Sinykin (Midwest Environmental Advocates). In addition, featured evening speaker Jack Waterman, a builder and former operator of Noah’s Ark Waterpark, will provide a unique perspective on the local history of the area and how it developed from a remote summer destination of scenic beauty to become “the Waterpark Capital of the World,” home to 18 indoor waterpark resorts that operate all year. An active community leader, Waterman will discuss how Wisconsin Dells balances the needs of business development while protecting its water resources.

For more information, including a registration form, please visit The meeting is hosted by the AWRA-Wisconsin Section, UW Water Resources Institute, Center for Watershed Science and Education at UW-Stevens Point, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, and the Wisconsin District of the U.S. Geological Survey.

The Aquatic Sciences Center is the administrative home of the
University of Wisconsin Sea Grant Institute & University of Wisconsin Water Resources Institute.

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