Wisconsin Potato and Vegetable Growers Association

Environmental Group Challenges High Capacity Well Permits

One of the state’s most active environmental groups has filed nine legal challenges Friday against the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources over the agency’s recent granting of high-capacity well permits, mainly in the Central Sands region in central Wisconsin. Clean Wisconsin says the lawsuits are in response to the DNR’s decision to rely on the opinion of Attorney General Brad Schimel stating the DNR lacks the authority to review the individual and cumulative effects of high capacity irrigation wells on nearby waterbodies.

In nine petitions filed in Dane County Circuit Court on Friday, October 28, the group argued the DNR’s failure to review cumulative impacts violates the agency’s obligation to protect the natural resources entrusted to the agency by the citizens of Wisconsin. The Pleasant Lake Management District is co-petitioner on one of the nine petitions.

As Wisconsin Ag Connection reported in June, the DNR revised its policies regarding high-capacity well applications after Schimel issued an opinion on the issue in May, which concluded that the DNR does not have the legal right to regulate such wells based on how they could potentially affect nearby bodies of water.

Various farm organizations in Wisconsin praised Schimel’s conclusions last summer, stating that the opinion makes clear that state agencies have only those powers delegated to them by statute or an administrative rule.

High-capacity wells are defined as wells that can that pump at least 70 gallons of water per minute.

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Volume 14, Issue 48 | December 2, 2022

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