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home : opinions : opinions February 26, 2015


2/5/2014 12:55:00 PM
Bill undermines public trust
The Rice Lake Chronotype

A wealth of natural resources is one of the chief reasons Wisconsin is such a great place to live. We can say that today because, historically, the state has done a good job of protecting and managing these resources for the good of all its people based, in large part, on the public trust doctrine that is part of our state Constitution. That doctrine essentially says the waters of the state belong to all its people, and that the water quality and quantity must be managed in the best interest of all citizens.
But recent and pending actions by the state Legislature to over zealously appease economic development interests seem hell-bent on undermining the doctrine that has served the state so well for so long. Last summer, as part of the state budget, the Legislature took away citizens' ability to challenge high capacity well permits even in the face of evidence those wells, along with neighboring wells, would lower water levels in nearby streams, rivers or lakes. The law goes into effect July 1.
Now there's a strong push for further legislation. AB679 would handcuff the Department of Natural Resources, the agency we depend on to uphold the public trust doctrine, by limiting the DNR's ability to regulate high capacity wells known to cause declines in ground or surface water levels.
High capacity wells are those capable of pumping 100,000 gallons per day or more-in most cases much more. While such wells were relatively few and far between, their numbers are growing fast as more farmland is being irrigated and more water is needed for industrial applications, such as frac sand mines. Portage County has the most at more than 1,100 as of 2012, mainly for irrigation. That same year, 279 high capacity wells were located in Barron County.
Last December, the Portage County Board asked the state to increase, not decrease, the DNR's ability to regulate high capacity wells. Their resolution included a number of examples of corresponding drops in water levels in local rivers, lakes, streams and nearby wells. Among the most notable are the Little Plover River, which has been placed on the nation's 10 most endangered list because of low water flow, and a study at the Hancock Experimental Station that shows the average groundwater level in the area has dropped by more than 10 feet in recent years.
From mid-October of last year through the end of January, the state received 134 new high capacity well applications, including eight in Barron County alone. The eight local applications include two for frac sand mines and six for irrigation. The eight proposed wells will pump up to 6.8 million gallons per day-almost as much water as the amount used by the nearly 20,000 households in all of Barron County. One of the applications is for a third high capacity well at the Source Energy Systems frac sand mine in the Town of Sumner. Another will serve a new Superior Silica mining operation in the Thompson Hills area of Sioux Creek Township.
That's not to say our aquifers can't provide enough water for all of these wells and more. But doesn't it just make sense that the state takes the time to understand the impact these may be having on existing wells or the surface waters that belong to us all?
AB679 puts the state's most precious resource at an unnecessary risk in exchange for potential short-term economic gains.

[The editorials that appear weekly in this space are the views of the newspaper as determined by The Chronotype's editorial board. All editorials are written by one or more members of the board, which consists of Warren Dorrance, Sam Finazzo, Gene Prigge and Eileen Nimm.]

Reader Comments

Posted: Sunday, March 9, 2014
Article comment by: Barb Cooan

I guess competitive bids are not required for the Federal government any longer.
Diane Feinstein (Senator from San Francisco) her husband chairman of a board who has entered into a contract with a real estate firm to sell 56 buildings that currently house US Post Offices,

The government has decided that it no longers needs these buildings which most now sit on prime land in cities and towns. Mr Blum and of course his wife will make millions of dollars from the sales of our buildings because of the commission they will make from the Post Office and land sales.

There was nothing put out for bidding for these buildings and Feinstein-Blum who are already millionaires stand to make more course its not needed in their family. There are other real estate businesses which could of done a job of bidding if it were presented to the public but was NOT.

This can be checked out by going to Snopes.com Truthorfiction.com and confirm this statement.

No one in the NEWS is even mentioning this fact which the public should be made aware, Guess they have turned a blind eye or just plain don't care what people in our government know about and are not doing a thing about this at all.

This should really upset everyone and all should use the internet and or write
letters to our reps in our government

Check it out its the truth.

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