Help Fight the Growing Groundwater Crisis Today!

Feb 22, 2017 | Citizen Advocacy, Groundwater

Give a few minutes of your time to make big difference in the fate of Wisconsin’s waters.

UPDATE: The groundwater bill, SB 76/AB 105, has been scheduled for a public hearing on Wednesday, March 15 at 9:00 am in State Capitol Room 412 East. This is a joint hearing of the Senate Committee on Labor and Regulatory Reform and Assembly Agriculture Committee.

The basics: A bill (SB 76/AB 105), aka “Death by a Thousand Straws,” that would make high capacity well permits permanent–with no additional review by DNR to repair, replace or transfer a well has been introduced by Senator Fitzgerald. (This is the same bill that didn’t pass last session because the Senate and Assembly approved slightly different versions.)

  • This bill allows the existing problem of disappearing lakes and rivers due to overpumping of groundwater to continue.
  • This bill does nothing to fix the growing groundwater crisis in the state, including problems many property owners in the Central Sands are facing due to groundwater overpumping.
  • River Alliance of Wisconsin opposes SB 76/AB 105. Providing the necessary tools to ensure adequate access to groundwater for Wisconsin’s industry and citizenry should be a priority for this Legislature. SB 76/AB 105 does not achieve this goal.

We need your help to stop this groundwater bill, SB 76, which was referred to the Senate Committee on Labor and Regulatory Reform. (AB 105 is the Assembly’s version of SB 76, they are the same bill. Ab 105 was referred to the Assembly Committee on Agriculture.)

Here’s what YOU can do today:

  1. CALL or EMAIL* your senator and represenative and say “no” to leaving our groundwater open to exploitation. Don’t know your state senator or representative? Use this link.
  2. ATTEND the hearing on March 15th and register against SB76/AB 105.
  3. SPEAK at the hearing on March 15th to share your concerns that this bill locks down our current problems and does nothing to fix the growing groundwater crisis in the state. Ask for periodic review of high capacity well permits by the DNR, instead of granting “forever” permits.
  4. SEND your comments to the members of the Senate Committee on Labor and Regulatory Reform and Assembly Committee on Agriculture.
  5. Ask THREE people to take these steps. Forward this in an email, post to FB, talk to your neighbor, etc.

*Use the “Tips and Talking Points” below as a handy reference point for your call, email, or testimony.

Tips and Talking Points:

  • Be brief, state your name, your address and why you care about this issue and how it impacts you personally;
  • Indicate that you oppose SB 76/AB 105 and ask your senator and representative to vote “no” on SB 76/AB 105;
  • SB 76/AB 105 does not solve the growing water crisis in the state, it only locks down the a system that has led to the problem in the first place;
  • SB 76/AB 105 gives “forever” wells to agriculture and industry and ongoing problems to homeowners, rivers, and lakes around the state;
  • Minimally, periodic review of high-capacity wells by DNR needs to be added to SB 76/AB 105;
  • Transferring the well permit at the time of property transfer without DNR review should be deleted entirely from this bill.

More information:

SB 76/AB 105 will end the only existing opportunity that DNR has to review and adjust water use permits in order to address problems. Currently, DNR’s authority to review and adjust a high-capacity well approval is limited to instances of a transfer, replacement or reconstruction of a well. This is the only real opportunity to address overpumping when there is a groundwater shortage because high-capacity well permits never expire. SB 76/AB 105removes this critical review opportunity completely. By taking away the only chance for any real review of water use, SB 76/AB 105 essentially creates a permanent permit for water use. Instead of providing solutions for the water challenges facing our state, SB 76/AB 105 cements the problems in place with no chance for a resolution. How is this responsible stewardship of water? DNR must have the ability to periodically review high-capacity well permits.

Another concern with SB 76/AB 105 is it will allow the transfer high-capacity well permit at the same time a landowner transfers property ownership, without having that well permit reviewed by the DNR. Many believe it creates a “water right,” which Wisconsin law has historically avoided. Transferring the well permit without DNR review should be deleted entirely from this bill.

Questions? Contact River Alliance staff at [email protected] or by phone at (608) 257-2424.