Ken Potter

Ken PotterProfessor
Civil and Environment Engineering, UW-Madison


Johns Hopkins University
Ph.D., Geography and Environmental Engineering

Louisiana State University
B.S., Geology

Research areas:

Hydrological Modeling and Design, Stormwater, Estimation of Hydrologic Risk, Restoration of Aquatic Systems

Selected Publications:

Atchison, D., K. W. Potter, and L. Severson, Design Guidelines for Stormwater Bioretention Facilities, University of Wisconsin Water Resources Institute, Publication No. WIS-WRI-06-01, 2006.

Potter, K. W., Small-scale, spatially distributed water management practices: Implications for research in the hydrologic sciences, Water Resources Research, 42, W03S08, doi:10.1029/2005WR004295, 2006.

Brander, K. E., K. E. Owen, and K. W. Potter, Modeled impacts of development type on runoff volume and infiltration performance, Journal of the American Water Resources Association, 40(4), 961-970, 2005.

Gaffield, S. J. and K. W. Potter, Predicting the summer temperature of small streams in southwestern Wisconsin, Journal of the American Water Resources Association, 41(1), 25-36, 2005.


Aquatic resources, such as streams, lakes, wetlands, and groundwater, are essential to our well being. Ironically, use of these resources and their associated watersheds has led to their degradation. Kenneth Potter's research focuses on providing a technical basis for the sustainable use of aquatic resources and for the restoration of degraded aquatic resources. This research is strongly interdisciplinary, involving faculty and students from the earth, life, and social sciences, as well as from engineering. Research methods include the use of field measurements and hydrologic modeling.

The growth of urban areas is a primary threat to aquatic resources. "Low-impact development" offers a potential way to accommodate population growth without sacrificing environmental quality. One promising strategy is to construct impervious and pervious areas so as to maintain natural rates of infiltration and groundwater recharge. Dr. Potter's research involves both the design and evaluation of various strategies for low-impact land development.

The restoration of degraded aquatic systems requires the re-establishment of natural flow rates and water levels. Dr. Potter's research includes assessment of hydrologic conditions, under past, present, and alternative future conditions. He is particularly interested in the exchange of water between surface and subsurface systems.

Ken Potter has been very active in his work on behalf of the environment in Wisconsin. His dedication has gained him awards, appointment, and national recognition:

  • Vice Chairman of the Consortium of Universities for the Advancement of Hydrologic Sciences
  • Advisory Council Member of the Greater Everglades Restoration
  • Ragnar E. Onstad Service to Society award