Lasee's Notes
 March 30, 2017

Lasee's Notes is a way for me to communicate directly with you on key issues of our day
and to champion limited government, lower taxes, and individual liberty. How we respond
to these issues today, will affect the direction of our state and nation tomorrow.

I look forward to hearing from you about the issues of concern to you. Please feel free to contact me, Sen.Lasee@legis.wisconsin.gov or (608) 266-3512. If you are planning to be in Madison, please visit, I look forward to seeing you at the Capitol.


Water you think about this?


Wisconsin is all about water!  Three of our borders are made up of it, we drink it, ski on it, and even after it freezes we fish and skate on it.  We love water so much in Wisconsin that we are home to the Waterpark Capitol of the World and the first, second, and seventeenth largest freshwater lakes in the United States.  Wisconsin is home to 15,074 lakes making Minnesota’s “Land of 10,000 Lakes” slogan look as small and weak as the Minnesota Vikings offensive line.

In Wisconsin, water and its usage have always been overseen by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). Part of this oversight by the DNR has been reviewing and issuing permits for high capacity wells.  High capacity wells, are wells with the ability to pump 70 or more gallons of water a minute. While many associate high capacity wells with farms, most don’t realize that the majority of high capacity wells are owned and operated by municipalities to provide city water. Also, many other businesses, our state’s economic engine, need high capacity wells too: construction, electric power generation, tourism, manufacturing, fire departments for large fires and others.

In 2011, the Wisconsin State Supreme Court issued a decision that blew the permitting process for high capacity wells out of the water.  The court’s Lake Beulah Management District vs Wisconsin DNR decision stated that the DNR had the authority to require the environmental review process for all high capacity well permit applications, including those for replacement, reconstruction, and transfer of ownership of existing high capacity well permits. Then, in 2016 Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel issued an opinion clarifying the DNR’s authority regarding the issuance of high capacity well permits

With so many rulings, opinions, and interpretations of Wisconsin’s laws out there, the legislature decided to introduce a bill that clarifies Wisconsin’s high capacity well laws – Senate Bill 76 (SB 76) and companion bill Assembly Bill 105 (AB 105).

The bill allows for the repair, reconstruction, or replacement of an existing DNR approved high capacity well by allowing owners to replace a failing well as long as the new well is within a 75 feet radius, at the same depth, and complies with the permit requirements for the original high capacity well.  This provides certainty and stability for our existing high capacity well users. Generational farms, electric power generators, cities, villages, towns, and manufacturers shouldn’t be mired in government red tape for a well that was already permitted.

Folks in parts of Adams, Marathon, Marquette, Portage, Shawano, Waupaca, Waushara, and Wood Counties comprise the Central Sands area of Wisconsin. Some in the area are concerned that there are too many high capacity wells, and existing wells are causing water and lake levels to lower.  More scientific data is needed and SB 76/AB 105 takes that step by specifically authorizing the DNR to study the interaction between groundwater and surface water within the Central Sands area. It also requires new, reconstructed, or replaced high capacity wells located in the Central Sands area to install a water usage meter and provide the data to the DNR. This study and data will help the DNR and legislature to form evidence based policy and legislation in the future. 

On March 15th, the high cap well bill was heard in a joint legislative committee. It was a long day; however, I appreciated hearing everyone’s testimony (166 citizens spoke or registered in favor, 144 citizens spoke or registered in opposition).  It’s a complicated issue and folks are very passionate on both sides. Ultimately, this bill is needed and we passed it in committee by a 3-2 vote this past Tuesday. Last session, I was on the committee that heard the bill then. So this is the second go around for me.

As a member of the committee, I support SB 76 because I believe it provides certainty and stability for high capacity well users, while allowing for the monitoring and study of one of our most important resources. There will be more legislation needed in the future, yet SB 76 serves as a good starting point in protecting Wisconsin water and allowing that same water to help Wisconsin’s economy grow. 

Don’t forget Tuesday, April 4th is Spring General Election Day in Wisconsin.  To find information on how to register to vote, see where your poll is located, or to view what will be on your ballot, visit My Vote Wisconsin at https://myvote.wi.gov/en-us/



 
 

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State Capitol Room 316 South, PO Box 7882, Madison, WI 53708
(608) 266-3512
Email: Sen.Lasee@legis.wisconsin.gov