GUEST BLOG: Take Action, High Capacity Wells in Wisconsin
WI DNR Goes Back to Significant Impact Reviews for Proposed High Capacity Wells
“… broad authority and a general duty . . . to manage, protect, and maintain waters of the state [including] the authority and a general duty to consider the environmental impact of a proposed high capacity well on waters of the state.”
Kaul cited two court orders that undermine Schimel’s legal analysis. Sadly, during the time DNR implemented Schimel’s opinion, some 737 new high capacity wells were approved without a significant impacts review.
DNR’s reviews for new high capacity well applications will consider both individual impacts of the proposed wells and the cumulative impacts of all other wells. However, DNR will only be reinstating reviews as they affect navigable waters, usually lakes and streams, according to DNR’s Adam Freihoefer. Wetlands and private wells will be excluded from review, a backsliding from the 2011-2016 period predating the Schimel opinion.
DNR’s change in direction does not affect existing high capacity wells that are significantly impacting lakes and streams. This is an area that requires legislation to undo damages from uncontrolled groundwater pumping—a move being resisted by leadership in the assembly and senate and by previous Governor Walker.
WMC Pans DNR High Capacity Well Reviews
Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, our state’s “largest and most influential business association” has come out vocally against DNR reinstating high capacity well reviews for excessive impacts.
The organization seems to be pretending that groundwater pumping is disconnected from the fate of lakes and streams, despite all the studies that have been done over decades. Executive Vice President Scott Manley implies that concerned citizens don’t care about lakes and streams; in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel he is quoted as saying, “This is not about a farmer having a well to provide drinking water to cows or to grow potatoes. It’s about preventing businesses they don’t like from having permits.”
More on WMC’s take on high capacity wells can be found here.
WMC was a strong proponent of 2017 legislation that gave growers and other high capacity well owners “forever permits.” Some are surprised that WMC is taking such interest in an issue that is largely agricultural. Agriculture is a big player in WMC: mega-grower Louis Wysocki of Saratoga and Armenia fame sits on their board.
Action You Can Take
The Wisconsin DNR (WI DNR) is accepting comments on their High Capacity Well Review Guidance until July 6th. Please consider submitting comments in support of the guidance.
If you have questions, please contact Allison Werner [email protected].