Wisconsin Potato and Vegetable Growers Association

High Cap Well Update


As many of you know since the Lake Beulah decision in 2012, Wisconsin’s high capacity well (HWC) permit program has been on shaky ground with the DNR – unclear of their authority; and HCW owners – uncertain of their ability to get or keep permits.  The result is a backlog of HCW permits and agri-businesses choosing to locate outside of Wisconsin where there is more certainty.

Over the past two legislative sessions attempts to reach agreement by agriculture, business, regulators, legislators, and environmental groups have failed.  In an attempt to bring a level of certainty and clear the backlog of permits, Assembly Bill 874 was introduced late in the legislative session.  Simply put AB 874 clarifies the regulatory framework for approved, existing high capacity wells and directs the DNR to conduct a study in problem areas.  It provides certainty for existing well owners, preserves property values, maintains environmental compliance standards, and provides relief and assistance for affected lakes.

AB 874 passed the Assembly last week and is now in the Senate.  The Senate will reconvene on March 15th to pass remaining bills before they adjourn for the remainder of the session—December 2016.  Now we are working to get the bill passed through the Senate.


A coalition of business and agriculture organizations are working to pass the bill through the Senate.    With this email we are asking you to contact your State Senator and ask him or her to vote for AB 874/SB239.

Our message is:

  • Wisconsin’s agri-business community needs certainty in high capacity well regulation and AB 874/SB239 provides that certainty for existing DNR-approved HCWs.
  • AB 874/SB239 allows repair, reconstruction and replacement of existing, DNR-approved high capacity wells.
  • Reconstructed or replaced wells would not be allowed to pump any more water than had originally been approved by the DNR therefore the net result of this legislation on new groundwater pumping is zero.
  • AB 874/SB239 preserves property values by allowing landowners to transfer their property with DNR-approved high capacity wells.  These wells are approved by the DNR and are a critical part of Wisconsin’s agricultural and industrial infrastructure.
  • AB 874/SB239 maintains environmental compliance & construction standards.  All repaired, reconstructed, replaced and transferred wells must comply with environmental, construction and other standards and conditions in the well’s DNR approval.
  • AB 874/SB239 requires DNR to study areas where concerns over groundwater use have been raised.
  • AB 874/SB239 provides relief and assistance for affected lakes.  DNR must expedite approvals for wells by lake associations or districts that will be used solely to provide water to a lake located in a study area to assist in evaluating and modeling the hydrology of that area.

Please tell your Senator that high capacity wells are important to the agri-business community.  Wisconsin is a leader in many food areas.  Once again Wisconsin remained number 2 in the nation for the value of production for the major processing vegetables.  This means jobs for growers and processors and supports the success of the dairy, beef, pork and poultry industries.


The best way to contact your Senator is to simply call them or send them an email.  If you do not know who your Senator is go to http://legis.wisconsin.gov/ and type in your address under “Find My Legislators” on the right hand side.  Look for your state senator.

You will probably talk to an assistant which is great.  Make sure that they know you are a constituent and that you work for a company that relies on high capacity wells.  Any real-life story that makes this point is good to tell.  Ask them to vote for AB 874/SB239.

If your company location is in a different zip code, contact that senator and let them know how important the jobs are to your community.  This may seem like a lot of work but it is not.  They appreciate hearing from you and value the information.

There are four Senators who NEED to hear from their constituents.  If you know them, live in their district, or have a plant in their district please contact them and ask them to vote for the bill.  They are:

Senator Luther Olsen (R-Ripon) (608) 266-0751;
[email protected]

Senator Jerry Petrowski (R – Marathon) (608) 266-2502; [email protected]

Senator Sheila Harsdorf (R – River Falls) (608) 266-7745; [email protected]

Senator Robert Cowles (R – Green Bay) (608) 266-0484; [email protected]

All of these Senators support the agri-business community but are under pressure from other constituents to oppose the bill for one reason or another.  For example Senator Cowles has worked tirelessly with all groups to find a solution but has been frustrated at every turn.  He needs to know that we need this bill.


Tater Talk Past Issues

Volume 15, Issue 48 | December 1, 2023

Tater Talk Archives

Tater Talk Subscription
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.