Clean Wisconsin Challenges High Capacity Well Permits

Clean Wisconsin, the state’s oldest environmental organization, filed nine legal challenges last week against the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) over the agency’s recent granting of high-capacity well permits, mainly in the Central Sands region. These 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 water bodies. “The proliferation of high capacity wells around the state is draining lakes, threatening outstanding and exceptional resource waters, and impacting private wells,” said Katie Nekola, general counsel for Clean Wisconsin. “The DNR’s refusal to consider cumulative impacts violates the agency’s Constitutional mandate to manage lakes and rivers and streams as public resources owned in common by all Wisconsin citizens.” Clean Wisconsin argues the DNR’s failure to review the cumulative impacts violates the agency’s Constitutional obligation to protect the natural resources entrusted to the agency by the citizens of Wisconsin. As the petitions filed in court on Oct. 28 point out, DNR’s own scientists and staff experts for months raised concerns about the direct “substantial” impacts these high capacity well permits would have on the wetlands, stream flows, groundwater, and ecology of the surrounding landscape.

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