Land owners have the right to protect their groundwater by Alan VanRaalte
My wife recently signed a petition to our state legislators circulated by the Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters that expressed concerns about action taken by the Joint Finance Committee to add language (known as Motion #375) to the governor’s budget that undermines a citizen’s right to court protection when high-capacity wells threaten their own private wells.
In her response, 35th Assembly District Representative Mary Czaja said that the committee was addressing specific issues which are currently being litigated and over which the DNR told her it had no jurisdiction. Of course that’s what the DNR told her. That’s why they’re being sued. That difference of opinion is precisely what the lawsuit is intended to resolve.
Even overlooking the questionable ethics of the legislature intervening in active litigation, the issue of a land owner’s right to protect their groundwater from depletion by corporate farms, mines or other high-usage operators is too important to bury in a budget bill without opening it to public debate.
Given that most of the state suffered severe to extreme drought conditions last year and the Northwoods is still recovering from a 7-year drought that brought about low lake levels, diminished flow of rivers and streams and a drop in the water table, the attempt to make it easier for high-capacity well operators to further jeopardize our already stressed groundwater resources is reckless and irresponsible.
Alan VanRaalte, Tomahawk