A bill limiting the DNR’s power over high capacity wells is up for a hearing in a Senate committee Wednesday.
High capacity wells are defined as pumping more than 100,000 gallons of water per day. They’re typically used by businesses. The proposed legislation puts restrictions on when the DNR can regulate those kinds of wells: among other changes, if a property and well changes hands a landowner will not have to seek DNR approval. The bill also gives an application automatic approval if the DNR doesn't decide to deny or approve it within 65 days.
Environmental Protection group Wisconsin Lakes is against the legislation. Interim Executive Director Michael Engleson says it will encourage more high capacity wells, and that will affect the overall water supply.
“If you go to a party and you have a big bowl of punch, and the organizers don’t take the time to look at how many people are coming in…eventually the punch is gonna run out. We’re a ways from that in Wisconsin but a lot closer than we like to think. And we’re seeing it begin to impact the flow in lakes and rivers and streams.”
A state Supreme Court ruling gave the DNR the final say over high capacity wells. State Senator Tom Tiffany of Hazelhurst is one of three Senators introducing the bill changing some of those rules.