Surprise! Lawmakers and Gov. Scott Walker Rid High-Capacity Well Law of Groundwater Cumulative Impacts Requirement Challenges to WDNR Permits

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Starting this Monday, July 7, 2014, Wisconsin residents can no longer challenge state Department of Natural Resources permits for a high-capacity well if state officials failed to look at what the well might do to overall groundwater in the area, according to a Wisconsin Public Radio report by Chuck Quirmbach, July 1, 2014.

Wisconsin lawmakers and Gov. Scott Walker got rid of the cumulative impacts challenge when they passed the state budget a year ago. The new language covering the hi-cap wells — often used by water-intensive industries — takes effect on Tuesday.

This change comes much to the dismay of Amber Meyer Smith of the group Clean Wisconsin.

“Really, property owners are losing their ability to protect their property,” Smith said. “More and more people, especially in the central area of the state that are facing huge problems from over-pumping of groundwater due to neighboring industry and other high-capacity wells.They’re just going to lose one more tool in their toolbox to protect their own access to water, for their wells, for drinking water, for access to their favorite lakes and rivers and streams.”

DNR officials can still look at the cumulative impact on all the wells in an area, but if the agency doesn’t do so, challenges to the permit are now limited.

A spokesperson for Assembly Speaker Robin Vos didn’t respond to a request for comment, but has told other media that the new legal language protects the DNR by taking the judicial branch out of the permitting process.

Some environmentalists haven’t ruled out taking the new limits to court.

About Mike Neuman

Environmentalist; Father; Senior Citizen; Husband, Former School Crossing Guard for City of Madison; Bike to Work Advocate; Animal/Children/People Lover (in general); Volunteer for Habitat for Humanity, Madison, Wisconsin, Anti-long distance travel (via fossil fuel burning); Against militarism in any form; Strong believer in people everywhere having the right to speak their minds openly, without any fear of reprisal, regarding any concerns; for those in authority to listen attentively AND, as warranted, ACT AS NECESSARY AND IN A TIMELY MANNER TO REDUCE OR ELIMINATE those concerns; Lover of music, especially live music, music by: David Crosby, Stephen Stills, Graham Nash, Neil Young; John Prine; Steve Goodman; B.B. King; Eric Burton; Gracy Slick, Carol King;John Lennon, George Harrison, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr; Bob Dylan; Lightfoot; Mark Knoffler; Richard Thompson; Elvis Presley; Tom Petty; Willie Nelson, Others too numerous to mention.

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