Aug 20, 2016

CAFO Champ Rep. Scott Krug Hit with Suit Demanding Clean Water Emails

A journalist in Wisconsin has filed a lawsuit asking for water-related emails showing correspondence between the office of State Rep. Scott Krug (R-Nekoosa, Wisconsin) and constituents.

In an Open Records request, Bill Lueders, asked for requested material in an electronic form to make the predictable document dump searchable. The request asks for emails from January through April 8, 2016, the Associated Press reports, and covers a period during which Scott Krug pushed an anti-clean water measure opposed by constituents.

Krug is politically opposed by members of the clean water citizen group, Protect Wood County and Its Neighbors. Many in the citizen group regard the Republican Krug as running political interference for the Republican Party and Gov. Scott Walker's agenda to dismantle state protections for clean and safe water.

During the January-to-April 8 period covered in Lueders' request, Krug introduced legislation opposed by Protect Wood County and other citizen groups, (Mal Contends).

Citizens mobilize in Wood and Adams counties Wisconsin
to stop massive factory farm in central Wisconsin,
and to protect clean water
Wisconsin Assembly Bill 477 and Senate Bill 291 were introduced in the 2015-16 Wisconsin Legislative Session. The requested Jan-April timeframe by journalist Lueders is within the session's duration, continuing through early 2017.

Residents of Wood and Adams counties clashed with Krug, noting his introduced measure, (Assembly Bill 477), would have facilitated unpopular developments in central Wisconsin.

These opposed changes include the increased drawing of groundwater through high capacity wells, the poisoning of ground and surface water, the operation of the unpopular Wysocki factory farm, the plummeting of property valuations, and a threat to communities' recent attempt to promote central Wisconsin as a tourism and recreational mecca.

David Gorski is challenging State Rep. Scott Krug
in Wisconsin's Assembly District 72.
Clean and abundant water issues will define the race between Krug and clean water advocate, David Gorski, the Democratic Party nominee for Wisconsin's 72nd assembly district race.

Writes Bruce E. Dimick of Saratoga in Wood County, testifying in opposition to Senate Bill 291 on October 13, 2015 before the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Energy:
Mr. Chairman and members of the Committee, thank you for the opportunity to speak here today.  My name is Bruce Dimick; I am from the Town of Saratoga Wisconsin, and am a member of the Protect Wood County and Its Neighbors organization. I have read SB 291 and was pleased by some aspects of the bill, but troubled by others.

One of those problem areas is the method used to identify a Sensitive Resource Area (SRA). I was a member of Representative Krug’s Citizen Advisory Groundwater Group when language similar to what is found in SB 291 was presented by Representative Krug with respect to Sensitive Resource Areas. I forcefully argued against this convoluted approach then, and I do so again today. To my knowledge, no one on the committee endorsed this approach, although many of us were in favor of the concept of Sensitive Resource Areas, or carve-outs.

Approval for a Sensitive Resource Area, (SRA), designation would, according to some estimates, take at least 10 years, during which any high-capacity wells that are approved for an area would be allowed to operate. By the time the SRA designation could be achieved much of the damage would already be done. Why work reactively when a proactive approach makes so much more sense both environmentally and economically?

In order to really understand the hydrogeology of an area like the Central Sands, you almost have to live there for a number of years, especially if you are from a more typical clay-loam environment.  We raised our family north of Appleton in the heart of dairy country during the ‘70’s and 80’s. This was typical clay-loam country like the country I grew up on in Northeastern Ohio. When we eventually moved to Saratoga, with its almost total lack of topsoil and all sand it took some getting used to. Without spray irrigation, our area is good for growing pine trees, but not much else.

One way to conceptualize the Central Sands area is think of it as a big tub full of sand filled almost to the top with water. All the water is connected. Streams, lakes and ponds are merely reflecting the local water table. As an example, we have a small dug pond on our property that has no typical inlet or outlet. Yet it is full of clean water and fish year round.  The ground water flows through our pond, slowly but continually, on its way to the Wisconsin River via one or more of the trout streams in the area.

The Central Sands area has been the subject of countless hydro geological studies done by the UWSP as well as the USGS and has already been identified as an environmentally sensitive region. The sensitivity of this aquifer is well documented, including a 2003 designation by the state legislature when groundwater management areas were identified.

The SRA designation should be made by the legislature proactively, now, just as it was in 2003 when groundwater management areas were identified.

If the entirety of the Central Sands area were designated as an SRA up front, then that would be a great improvement to this Bill.

I would ask the committee to go through a likely scenario for the Town of Saratoga if this bill is passed without modification. Saratoga home owners and small business’s are already being stressed by the threat that the aquifer supplying the residents of the town will be severely damaged. Housing prices have already plummeted, some by as much as 40-50%, and that is if you are lucky enough to sell your home. We are all dependent on private wells. The two wells on my property are 12’ sandpoints and our water tests unbelievably clean.

So if SB 291 becomes law without modification, and the Wysocki Family of Companies sinks their proposed 33 high capacity wells and lowers the water table as expected, many residents will have to construct new deeper wells.  And by the way, deeper does not always mean better. In areas like ours, the best water is frequently found near the top. Sand is a great filter.

Property values will continue to deteriorate and new houses will not be built in our rural residential community. Anybody that can move out, will move out. Perhaps a few hearty souls would prevail and eventually Saratoga and surrounding areas would be designated as an SRA after 7-10 years. The chances at that point of actually shutting down Wysocki’s 33 high capacity wells seems remote at best.

The damage will have been done and a rural community and its small businesses will suffer.

From the Associated Press, Aug. 19, 2016:

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- A reporter has filed a lawsuit demanding a state lawmaker turn over more than 1,000 pages of records in an electronic format.

Bill Lueders, a reporter and president of the Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council, filed the lawsuit Friday in Madison. He alleges he asked Rep. Scott Krug's office for correspondence with constituents over water issues from January through April 8.

The lawsuit alleges Krug's office released more than 1,000 pages even though he asked for the material electronically so he could search it easily.

Krug, a Nekoosa Republican, says he hadn't seen the lawsuit but insisted his office complied with the open records law. He said he thinks the lawsuit is politically motivated since Lueders gave it to reporters first.

Lueders says he only wants compliance with the law.

The Krug-David Gorski race is considered a prime pick-up opportunity for the Democratic Party.

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