Mar 28, 2017

Wisconsin Legislators Look to Give Away Water to Special Interests

Pro-water signs proliferate in the town of Saratoga in
central Wisconsin.
Image was taken May 2015 by Saratoga resident
Madison, Wisconsin — Communities in central Wisconsin look to the state capitol to see if legislators will turn their backs this morning.

It's a good chance legislators will turn their backs on their own constituents, they're considering a bill that would deplete Wisconsin's waters for the benefit of special interests:

The bill is Wisconsin Senate Bill 76, (Assembly Bill 105), and has drawn opposition from communities, small farmers, businesses, recreation and tourism activists, property rights activists and a coalition of citizens who have worked to stop the operation of a proposed industrialized factory farm or CAFO, (Confined Animal Feeding Operation) in central Wisconsin.

Among the effects on water policy in the bill are Constitutionally dubious changes to environmental laws that plead regulatory procedures to ignore Wisconsin’s Public Trust Doctrine, which protects public access to waters.

The bill is expected to be acted upon on March 28 between 10 am and 1 pm in the Senate Committee on Labor and Regulatory Reform. [Linked here is the Wisconsin legislative committees' calendar.]

From Rome and Saratoga, (Wisconsin), Concerned:

Dear Senators,

Let's be honest about the proposed bill. We know it's a reach by the large grower lobby to gain the advantage and have unlimited access to groundwater. And, we recognize that the plan for a paper ballot is to prevent you from considering amendments that might make this bill more reasonable to all citizens.

The large growers have spent large sums of money to try to sway you, they've created their own groundwater fact book filled with junk science and innuendo, they launched a campaign in the central sands to try to influence each county board into quietly standing by while they assault our state capitol with their junk science, and recently they've been seen at listening sessions using misleading photos to suggest there is no damage to lakes in the central sands.

During this same time, you've seen growing numbers of constituents busing to Madison to share scientific evidence with you that shows our lakes and streams are being unfairly damaged by excess groundwater pumping via high capacity wells from these same grower organizations. You've seen more and more press coverage stating the issues with water all around our state.

By now, you recognize that there are key differences to the two sides on this issue. On one side, you have large grower interests using their financial power to try to influence you through lobbyists and misleading information. On the other side are your constituents, lobbying you with empirical information and personal stories showing what is actually happening to our lakes and streams from over pumping of high capacity wells, sharing the threats to the state's $20 billion tourism revenue, and sharing concerns for their own property values and lifestyle issues with the threat of even more high capacity wells and unlimited pumping. I would remind you that there are already 13,000 high capacity wells in our state, the majority used for agriculture.

So, the question to you is, will you support the citizens who are asking for reasonable groundwater solutions in critical areas like the central sands, or will you bend to the big grower lobby trying to have unfettered groundwater access regardless of the effect on our citizen's right to clean and abundant water? The recent healthcare repeal attempt is an indicator of the result when citizens apply pressure to protect what's important to them. Ignore it at your own peril.

Please vote no on the paper ballot and force a more reasonable groundwater bill.

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