SB 76 rewards agriculture over tourism and every other citizen of Wisconsin

Given the impact of SB 76 on Wisconsin’s waters CSWAC is disappointed the Senate approved the bill. We ask the Assembly Committee on Agriculture take the time to properly discuss and consider the ramifications of the accompanying bill, AB 105, in an executive session. A fair timeline and process to review existing high capacity wells is needed. This will allow DNR the opportunity to work with high capacity well owners to limit their impacts to surface and groundwater.

Senator Testin's amendment of the study areas deserves a proper discussion so CSWAC, Wisconsin residents and other stakeholders have sufficient time to understand why additional lakes and watersheds were added and some were removed from the bill. CSWAC representatives met with Senator Testin on numerous occasions and asked to have the entire central sands region studied. Senator Testin’s amendment did not go far enough. A region wide study can upgrade existing hydrologic models to help DNR make management decisions based on science that will help agriculture, homeowners and our lakes and streams thrive.

We are surprised that Senator Testin implied that CSWAC member organization, Friends of the Central Sands, supported the amendment. Friends of Central Sands President Bob Clarke has stated, “It has come to our attention that our name was used today in support of an amendment for SB76, a bad water bill. This is not the case. We do not support this bill or this amendment. We stand beside our friends and colleagues in calling for this bill to be defeated. Our water must be protected. Using our name and thus all of you who support us is wrong!"

There are portions of this bill the Central Sands Water Action Coalition can support. We can support repair and maintenance of an existing well. We can support the replacement of an operating well. But, we can only support these positions if DNR has the ability to periodically review existing high capacity well permits.

AB105 amendments should include:

  • Periodic review of existing high capacity wells.
  • The ability and authority to enable the DNR to adjust reviewed permits to meet current conditions and water balance issues.
  • An expanded study area that will include the entire Central Sands
  • No Section 4(3)g, which takes away a citizen’s right to contest a DNR decision.

We look forward to working with our Representatives on additional amendments that will truly balance all water user's needs. SB 76 rewards agriculture over tourism and every other citizen of Wisconsin.

The Central Sands Water Action Coalition is a membership organization of 66 lake associations, lake districts, and conservation groups representing more than 50,000 members and their families concerned with negative impacts on water resources in the Central Sands Region of Wisconsin.